Getting Roped In

english ivy basket collaboration

I recently had the pleasure of collaboring with Sharon Kallis, a friend and inspiration of mine who also weaves with invasive species. She called me and asked if I would like to collaborate on a project for the Multi-species Salon and Emergent Ecologies project. I checked it out and told her I would love to. For the next several weeks we would skype and weave and brainstorm the meaning and form our project would take. In the end, we call it the "Migration Pack." Together we created the concept, Sharon grew, harvested, processed, wove, spun, and dyed all of the fiber elements and the cordage, then I harvested the basket materials and wove them together and assembled the piece. Sarah Hill is our model. The Migration Pack is on display starting next week at the Opening Reception - Emergent Ecologies - Art Exhibit at Princeton University in New Jersey. If you live nearby go check out the show!

English Ivy Basket with Western Red Cedar Bark

English Ivy Basket Class at Portland Plant Medicine Gathering

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This last weekend was the 7th annual Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. It's a wonderful conference of herbalists and plant enthusiasts. So much knowledge, inspiration, and community there. It's my third year teaching, and while most of the classes are related to herbal medicine, my class is a weaving class. There is more to plant medicine than simply taking the part of the plant into our bodies. Plant medicine can even be just the way you relate and co-create with plants as well. Nature is a great medicine, and so is working with the hands. The meditative state that it creates is soothing and releases stress, which calms inflammation, which leads to better health. This year I taught a simple coiled basket. The pictures here were taken by one of the students, and this is a student basket. If you have never been to the gathering before, I recommend putting it on your radar for next year. Follow along from their website:

Portland Plant Medicine Gathering

Ivy Basket Class with Jackson Bottom Wetlands

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Today I taught a great group of folks out at Jackson Bottom Wetlands on how to weave baskets using the invasive species English Ivy. This is a signiture class that I have been teaching for years now, but I hadn't taught this particular one since last spring. The class went so well and all the baskets looked so great. I love seeing the ivy transform into a container. It is so fulfilling to be a teacher and environmental educator and ancestral skills practitioner–and to bring all those elements together with this program. I'm thankful to Jackson Bottom Wetlands for bringing me out there. If you are interested in having me come teach a basket class, drop me a line. 

Why Weaving?

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I often ask myself this question. Of all the ancestral skills that I practice, what is it about weaving that continues to draw my focus and passion? It always comes down to this: weaving just feels like the right thing to do. It's simply what my hands like to do, and my mind loves to watch and calculate. I can logically justify it by thinking that it's probably the most useful and still-relevant ancestral skill. Everyone needs containers. They look prettier than plastic. When I think about other skills that I practice like hide-tanning and flint-knapping, they just don't seem as relevant to the modern world in the way that basketry continues to be. I don't plan on having a kitchen set of obsidian knives, or a wardrobe of buckskin. I have friends who love to do those things more than weaving though, and they may have their own logical explanations for why they do what they do. When it comes down to it, it's what is in your heart. Basketry was my first merit badge in the Boy Scouts when I was 11 years old. Perhaps I imprinted on it the way a baby duckling imprints on their mother. Who knows. All I know for sure is that I love weaving.