Many people who participate in my basketry workshops want to become more confident to collect, dry and store plant fibre. This is the first in a series of posts I will write to help people gain skills in this area. Follow me through the seasons as I gather natural materials and prepare them for my own weaving and to bring to my workshops for others to enjoy weaving.
Over the last couple of months I have been storing large quantities of natural plant fibre that has been drying in my shed over summer. Some of it has been hanging from the rafters in bunches of 25 leaves. Other leaves have been laying on racks to dry (turned every few days so they dry evenly and don’t discolour). Once dry, I wrap the plant fibre up in newspaper bundles and store it indoors so that it does not go mouldy in the shed over winter. I am lucky to have a built in wardrobe that has a large cavity to store my basketry materials. It is a dark, dry place that is perfect for the task! I keep a list of whats in my collection, that is updated every time I remove or add fibre so that it is easy to locate when I need it!
See below photos of eliocharis that I collected when the dam water level was very low so I was able to harvest easily. It dried on racks in the shed and I have documented how I wrap and store it for later use.
I have also collected day lily very recently as the flowers had finished and the leaves were starting to dry off. I cut the plants back completely and then spent time washing each length individually before laying on a rack to dry. If I have more time over the next week I will tie them in bunches of 25 leaves and hang them up to dry. If the weather turns cold I may have to bring the bunches inside to hang in my laundry so they do not go mouldy! I have left this task a bit late this year…