Sunday, September 30, 2007

Inuit grass sewing

I just returned from Ottawa, Canada where I participated in a conference on the conservation of Aboriginal heritage. It was a wonderful conference filled with mutual respect and a diversity of ideas. While in Ottawa, I stayed at the "Jail Hostel." It's pretty much like it sounds: an old jail that has been converted into a youth hostel. We slept in jail cells, complete with bars for doors. It was a fun place, but I'm very happy to be back in my own (comfortable) bed!

The last day of the conference held a number of workshops on traditional techniques. I chose to learn Inuit grass sewing--a type of coiled basketry. Our instructor was from Rigolet, Labrador, and learned this technique as a child in school. The grass we used is native to her area, and was picked for us by one of her neighbors. It starts by sewing one piece of grass around a knot made from three others:As the coil builds, you continue to add grass to the inner bundle, and work thin pieces around the inner bundle--both to hide it, and anchor the coil to the previous rounds:
After a full-day workshop I made a very tiny basket. Learning these techniques gives you a genuine appreciation for the amount of time and work it takes to create these objects.


Beklina said...

So precious. That looks like such a satisfying project.
Thanks for sharing.

Cherie said...

I outed myself to compliment you on learning this technique. Sounded like a neat workshop also. I really love basketry, and it is done round the world!

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Phuong and I am doing a paper for a college class on Inuit grass-basket weaving. I have been researching the methods of the weaving and its cultural implications. However, I have had great difficulty finding explicit information of the actual construction of the baskets--until I found your blog. The pictures and directions you have are perfect: they are very easy to understand and clearly shows the process of making the baskets. I am asking for your permission to use your pictures and paraphrase your directions in my paper. I would explicitly cite your blog as a source of course. Besides for the inclusion in my academic paper, I would not use the pictures/descriptions for any other purpose. Please let me know if you are willing to let me make use of your work by emailing me at Thank you.