Mar
11
2013

  First Attempt at Honeysuckle Vine Basket

Since learning that local Native Americans used honeysuckle to make baskets, I decided that I would try that, too. However, I did so without the useful guidance of anyone who has ever done it before, I decided today to just wing it.

I ripped up an armful of honeysuckle that was at the base of a wild cherry tree at the top of our driveway, but after coming home and stripping the leaves and side shoots, decided I needed more vines before I could even begin the project. So I found some more about halfway up the drive and took that home.

I lay out two groups of six vines perpendicular to each other for the ribs, then started weaving. It actually wasn't too bad until it was time to start bending the ribs upward to make a basket (versus a mat). After a few times around, I decided that this basket was not going to be successful, so I abandoned it. When W saw it, he said gently, "Mama, that doesn't really look like a basket." No, not really. But I am undaunted.

Once the kids fell asleep tonight, I did a quick internet search on "preparing honeysuckle vines for weaving" and was heartened that at least this is the right time of year to gather the vines-- it's best to get them in winter anytime before the sap starts to flow again. Then again, since there were new leaves on some of the vines it's possible I missed the ideal window already. But I did discover the main thing I had done wrong was to not soak the vines. Keeping the bark on the honeysuckle seems to be an aesthetic choice, but soaking the vines to make them more supple is not. That is mandatory, and I did not do it today since I assumed live vines would be flexible enough. Not so. Which is why I found the vines so infernally difficult to work with.

So I will try again later this week, but I will SOAK the vines first. For a long time. Still, I'm not sorry I made my initial attempt today-- if I wait until I know how to do things properly, there is a chance that the window of my enthusiasm will close. Now my enthusiasm is stoked enough to get me through the next attempt.