One of the things I like to do is harvest and prep material in batches. That is, instead of harvesting and prepping for a single project I harvest and prep a large batch of vines, bark, willow, etc.
Today, after I finished weaving, I split tulip poplar bark for upcoming projects. It took several hours but was well worth it. Not everything is ready to weave when I am.
Material prep is also a good way to shake up your energy too. When I feel uninspired but still want to be productive, material prep is my number one go-to activity.
What to do with Basket Weaving scraps??
Over 30 years of weaving with natural materials, I've seen my share of scraps lying around the studio.
And honestly, I've thrown a lot away over the years out of laziness. Which is crazy, considering how much time I've put into locating, harvesting and prepping this "gold"!
But one of my studio assistants several years ago helped me get a vision for using my scraps better... especially bark scraps. Now, at the end of the day, I take my bark scraps and separate them into 3 main sizes - short, medium, and long - and place them in a little container I made out of... you guess it, scrap wood.
Now, when I'm making smaller baskets (which I do a lot for my sculptural collections), I have a gracious plenty of materials perfect for the job. Anything that won't fit in this, I store in a big cardboard box and use it to refill this studio tabletop as needed.
Matt Tommey is a leader in the contemporary basketry movement and has been a maker for over 25 years. The focus of his work centers around the use of southern invasive plant species in basketry. He has served on the board of directors for the National Basketry Organization and taught at Arrowmont, the John C. Campbell Folk School and other locations both in the US and internationally.