“A weed is just a plant in the wrong place.” I don’t know where that quote comes from, but I think it depends on the eye of the beholder. Take bindweed. My Ever Supportive Partner (ESP) would say yes, please take it all – and burn it! But I, with a basketmaker’s eye ever on the lookout for potential weaving material, take a very different view.
It started last year during lockdown, when we were pretty much confined to home and garden. I’ve always been keen on reusing and recycling, and after a weekend of ESP cursing as he disentangled great clumps of bindweed, I decided to try weaving with it.
I started by making a random weave dish, using a hoop of the chunkier stems and weaving with the thinner material. As it dried out the loops around the hoop loosened as the bindweed shrank, and I wasn’t sure how strong it would be.
So I decided to make something more decorative – a small spherical pod around a mould made from a bag of rice, which could be removed easily afterwards. I also let it dry out first to shrink and then soaked it to make it pliable. Finally, I gave it a light coat of varnish to make it more robust before removing the mould.
I was much happier with this, and it gave me an idea for an installation for the next Prism Textiles Group exhibition, which is in October 2021. My submitted idea was accepted, which meant that I was committed to making a total of 50 bindweed vessels!
This was in October 2020. Bindweed dies off over the winter, but I collected as much as I could before the frost got to it. I became an expert in local bindweed hotspots!
In spring of this year I put the word out to family and friends who have gardens and allotments that I was on the lookout for bindweed. They welcomed me with open arms, and I spent many sweaty hours carefully unwinding its tendrils from more valued plants, stripping off the leaves, and winding it in loose coils to dry out.
I’m currently up to 28 bindweed pods – more than halfway!
I’ll post more about the exhibition closer to the time – the hanging mechanism is yet to be worked out! 🙂