Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
January 29, 2000 - Issue 02

Traditional Crafts
Thanks to Tonia Williams, Webmaster

 Methods of treating buckbrush and honeysuckle
vines to use in basket weaving

  1. Gathering time is best at late fall & early spring.
  2. Vines are gathered from the ground, not the top of the bush of the honeysuckle. Buckbrush is underground.
  3. If the vine is crooked it will not straighten out but can still be used and adds character to the basket.
  4. The skin of the vine can be pulled off by hand after boiling in water on low for 2-4 hours.
  5. To strip the skin from the vines, hold an old piece of cloth in your hand and pull the vines individually through your hand. Gloves work well too.
  6. Modern weavers use a teaspoon of detergent (such as Joy) in the water to make the vines shiny. Traditional, the natural oils in the hands and steady working of the vines will produce a shine to the vines.
  7. Traditional basket weavers slow boil vines for 2-4 hours in water and add stove ashes for the bleaching process.

Info Provided by Ina Romero - Basket Weaver (and My Mom)

Making Traditional Dyes

Walnut dyes - light brown to dark brown

Place a branch of walnuts and water with the vines to be dyed in a pot. Then place rocks on the vines to hold them under the water and let simmer until the desired shade of brown appears. You can also use walnut hulls by boiling them and running the hulls through a sieve. Place the vines in this mixture and bring it to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes and then run the vines under cold water until the water runs clear.

Bloodroot - orange color

The bloodroot can be found along the banks of streams and near running water. It can be recognized by the single white flower which blooms in
the early spring. The root can be gathered year round, even after the bloom falls off. Once the bloodroot has been gathered it should be
stored in a cool dark place during which time it will shrink. When you are ready to boil the root just add water and let simmer. An orange
color will appear in the vines when it is completed. Used liquid bloodroot dye can also be stored in a cool place. Some modern day weavers freeze the liquid which can be used again later.

Yellow onion skins - yellow, rust color to orange

The skins of the yellow onions can be located at any grocery store. Take the skins and place them in a pan of water with the vines and let simmer until the desired shade of yellow or rust appears. The liquid can be stored and reused.

Polkberry - sort of like a dark mauve

Polkberry and various other berries. Place in jar or bowl and mash to a pulp. Place the reed into the pulp. The longer you let it stand, the darker and richer the color.

Assorted berries make different colors as well

Info Provided by Ina Romero - Basket Weaver (and My Mom)

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