An Introduction to Working with Bark
During this two day workshop, this lovely group of students learned how to harvest, prepare and weave the inner and outer barks of poplar and mimosa trees. We completed two woven baskets and had the chance to make a couple of bark buckets as well. Though all of these women had some great experience with weaving already, weaving with bark was a whole new territory which was fun to explore!
On day one, I demonstrated and taught the group how to remove the rough outer bark from poplar and mimosa trees we had cut down and brought to the studio. We then sliced and collected the inner barks of each sapling, allowing us to roll up what we collected to dry and use for weaving.
Weaving with Bark
During the afternoon of day one, after the bark had been harvested and was starting to dry, we used some already prepared bark to make plaited baskets as a class. Using the poplar inner bark as the stakes for these baskets and mimosa outer bark, the class learned how to weave using all bark materials. In a matter of no time, each class member had woven a beautifully constructed bark basket; each of course, with its own artistic uniqueness created by the different weavers.
Later that afternoon, we had the chance to finish preparing the freshly harvested bark from the day in order to be able to weave it the next day. We also made some handmade bark buckets and polished up the bark baskets from the day in order to get them nice, shiny, and sealed for protection.
Weaving Bark Pouches
On day two, I demonstrated to the class how to make various shapes of bark pouches, or bags. Using the freshly harvested materials from the day before, we prepared the stakes and weavers for the bases of each of the basket pouches and started to weave!
By the end of the afternoon, each weaver had completed their very own bark pouch or bag out of the materials they had harvested the day before. Again, each basket had a uniqueness to it that could only be created by four very different and creative individuals. It's amazing to see what people can learn and do in such a short period of time! I had an awesome time working with this wonderful group and I hope they'll be back soon so share what they've done with what they learned in class!
Come Weave with Us!
Each year, I teach five or six two day classes for anyone interested in weaving. From novice to expert weavers, it is a great way to get to learn about harvesting, preparing, and weaving different materials with the different techniques I utilize in my own basket art. If you are interested in signing up for on of my classes, check out my page on how to weave a basket.
Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.