Weaving Reeds and Grasses

After our early morning walk on Saturday, and our delicious breakfast, Vikki Parsley arrived to teach us about weaving with natural materials. We had a surprise, she brought her teacher, Deirdre Martin from further up the coast, and Deirdre had her young granddaughter with her too. What a bonus! Vikki and Deirdre explained all the artefacts, baskets and resins to us, and told us tales of reed collecting before we began. We were using tall spike rush, which had been collected and dried a month previously. Now it was dampened and wrapped in a cloth to help it remain flexible as we worked.

When Vikki and Deirdre stopped their car in our driveway they were overjoyed to see the dams, and all the reeds around them … “What a lot of baskets you have there Christine!” Fortunately we had two teachers and cheerful Kaylee to help us, so we were soon bringing our coils together and working on our second and third rows. I was astonished to see how different each basket was, Some tight and tidy, others loose and free, each one reflecting somehow the hands of its maker.

A happy contented buzz came and went around the group, it soon felt like something we had done many times before, women gathered together weaving. Morning tea was virtually ignored as we were all reluctant to let go of our creations, but some people managed fruit in one hand while holding their trailing reed basket in the other. Eventually we had to stop for lunch, but everyone returned to their work over and over again during the rest of the day.

During the afternoon we managed to prise them away from the reeds to visit Budjarns Track where Vikki had been responsible for gathering the stories from the elders and doing most of the graphic design on the signs. Vikki explained all the bush tucker as we walked along, and pointed out medicinal plants to, with details of how to use them. We were tired by then, Kellys Lake was a beautiful place to sit and rest, or cool our feet in the water.

I am sorry I don’t have photos of finished works to show you, except mine which was very hurried and ordinary compared with the baskets others made. Earlier in the day I had brought a found stick and seaweed piece back from the beach. Deirdre saw it and instantly began twisting a string from reeds with which to hang it. We all learnt how to twist the string, so easy and satisfying, like the whole day really!

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16 thoughts on “Weaving Reeds and Grasses

  1. questo tipo di pianta per tessitura o intreccio per cestini , stuoie, poltroncine, tavoli…etc, etc da noi si chiama vimini, è lo stesso vostro materiale? è sempre interessante seguire la creatività di ciascuno attraverso la propria manualità
    buon lavoro amica Cristina and happy day

    This type of weaving or weave plant for baskets, mats, chairs, tables … etc, etc from us is called Wicker, is the same as your material? It is always interesting to follow each other’s creativity through their handedness
    good job friend

    • I met Vikki at the opening of the Budjarns Track, and asked her immediately if she would come to the retreat as our guest teacher this year …. she has worked as a cultural officer with various government departments including National Parks … so for you to find an indigenous teacher you might approach one of those departments … or ask if someone comes to the local primary schools …

  2. I really love this post Christine, a group of women creating and sharing – perfect! A few years ago I did a willow workshop and made a heron which stood beside the pond in my old house, it was great fun but cold and tough on the hands!

    • I can imagine willow would be tough on the hands, but the reed was quite pliable … we did need to keep rewetting our work though … fortunately it was a perfect sunny day so we were not cold! I like the sound of your heron, very graceful 🙂

  3. Looks like a colourful and fun day. Definitely great activities to include in a retreat for everyone to learn and make something to take away as well as lingering feelings of a lovely experience 🙂

  4. What a really nice day! The photos show a shared camaraderie that is sometimes hard to find. You have wonderful circles of other women with which to share and enjoy the most artistic enterprises. 🙂 I love your basket. What a special memento of the occasion, too!

  5. Great post and pictures.

    In my village in Himalayas, this is a very common trend. The old women spend most of their time weaving baskets, colorful sitting mats (very common), and similar stuff. In most village homes, they hardly buy those things from outside.

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