Spring has finally arrived in South-East Michigan! Although from a distance the landscape still appears to be barren…
…this is not really the case! A closer look will reveal a bounty of new growth–the earliest spring flowers. If you don’t believe me, get out there and see the blooming for yourself!
Likewise, a close inspection of the garden reveals new growth….
After the winter storms have ended and the warmth returns, its a good time to gather some materials for natural crafting. I started on my property–the ice and snow storms had knocked great big pieces of white birch bark off the trees–I gathered this for making birch bark baskets and for use with flint and steel firemaking (I will post about both of these sometime soon). The birch is a wonderful natural material with many, many uses.
After I was finished with the bark and enjoying a snack of a few violets, I went out to gather cattail heads for both my own purposes and also for the natural papermaking class I am teaching at Strawbale Studio in August. This is the best time of year to gather the cattail heads–in early spring, before they blow away completely or fall over. I typically gather them along the roadside near my house. Today, I met the people who owned the marsh where I was gathering, and they invited me further onto their property to gather the cattails at their farm.
They also had a lovely willow tree–when I saw a large downed limb, I asked if I could take some of it home, and they were happy to have me do so. I decided I’d try my hand at basketweaving this lovely afternoon.
I sat down on a blanket with a book I purchased on basketry some time ago. The willow was pliable and soft–it didn’t need any soaking. My first basket, however, didn’t work out because I used branches for the frame of the basket that were too thick to bend (they broke).
For my second attempt, I used much smaller canes for the frame of the basket, and soon enough, the basket was taking shape!
The basket turned out quite well in the end, after about an hour of weaving. I found basketweaving a really meditative activity, and it was quite enjoyable. And now I have a great basket that, once it dries out, will be useful for all sorts of things.
I also found out that my particular basket makes a nice hat.
I hope that you take a chance to go outside, enjoy the first of the spring blooms, and see what natural materials may speak to you!