A hobby a little different from  the computer…




About twenty years ago (1985), being definitely retired, I wished to spend my wintry leisure. I looked at my brothers who addicted themselves to the familial tradition,  basketry; mainly with wickers , honeysuckle and straw of the woods. I never had practiced that activity, but that attracted me. Then I started up… 

First step, the search of the materials. As for the wickers, that was not a problem, given the numerous rootstocks bordering the two ponds in our farm. Every fall, they are cut, one only has to  choose the best  shoots according to the planned  baskets. 

More delicate is the collection of honeysuckle: That little creeper is located in the hedges and  copses where it grows, coiling up around hazelnut trees and shrubberies. At that development stage it is  impossible to use: too curled up and fragile. One has to find plots of wood newly cleared . Indeed, the honeysuckle plants, due to the lacking of support grow on the ground, possibly amid brambles and dead leaves. One easily  finds  the young creepers that rapidly  grow ( three to six feet lengthy by year) At that phase, honeysuckles are  rectilinear and flexible. 

The creepers have to be denuded from their rare leaves and rind. For that , one has to do a skein of creepers and to coil it in a basin of hot water. Almost immediately, it is easy to pinch each stem  between two fingers and drag it to denude it. So, we have a thin creeper like  rattan, very flexible and fairly strong to traction and twisting.

As for the wood’s straw, it is a high graminaceae straw,  two to five feet high that grows by the slopes and paths of the woods. Alas, now it's hard to collect  that special straw, because the public streets service mowing it too frequently. The spared locations are rare. That straw has to be reaped in fall season, before frost and rotting. 

I have to concede that my first attempts were very hard and little successful. I  needed a lot of  patience to reach an acceptable result… 

The basketry’s manufacture  allows free rein to creativity for basketry’s forms and sizes once controlled the use of the materials. As for me, it was a matter of  baskets and wastebaskets ,structure  made in wicker and braiding in honeysuckle. On the other hand, objects in woods straw from simple wastebasket to a fisher’s basket with shoulder strap. 

Since about ten years, the P.C. had replaced the basketry… In this 2005/06 winter  I felt the need of split my pastimes. My decision was a little belated so I had difficulty  finding the adequate honeysuckle .

Meanwhile, a little basket is completed… it’s below: on the left at the beginning, on the right almost finished… but not particularly attractive. Later, I’ll daub it with a personal varnish made of propolis  (bee-glue) and industrial alcohol. That will give it a bronze color and defend it from  wood-eating insects.

 To illustrate my speech, a good picture being worth a thousand words, I got together a few specimen of my makings…

On the left, those made of woods-straw,  varied forms. On the right, those of wickers and honeysuckle.

The baskets of straw are  made with a cord of straw  progressively setting in form and tightly fixed with hazelnut tree’s rind ( as for me, I use solid string…)

March 2006