Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Buddha Pine Needle Purse - My first Purse attempt!

This is my first attempt at a Pine Needle Purse. I started the basket in Florida last march 2012. I used Chinese Soapstone and Tibetan Bone Findings, a Wooden Handle with Bone washers, Sandalwood and Rudraksha Beads as well as long leaf southern Pine Needles hand picked by me after a terrific windstorm on Merritt Island, Florida.

i orginally tried a smaller handle with the purse but was not able to open the bag well so I changed it out for a larger version. This picture shows the bag with the 1st version.

This is a photo of my friends Mother's Pine Needle Purse with Tennerife Lace. This is known as a Mattapoisett Purse. My purse is sort of an homage to this one. My next attempt will have tennerife in it as I have since learned how to do it.  I put this photo in to give you an idea of where my original inspiration comes from. I always loved Nantucket Purses and I even own a vintage one that was made on a Lightship in the early 1970's. This is the Pine Needle version, which may have been the absolute original style before the whalers brought back cane from Asia. Before that the native American's wove baskets from Pine Needles. It is a very old art and largely forgotten. I am sort of in love with it and it has taken me years to pull together the energy and where with all to attempt doing one of my own.

The beginnings of the Purse actually looked like this. There is a small soapstone buddha on the bottom of the basket and the row of rudraksha beads which are actually from a type of Asian Evergreen tree serve as the feet of the purse bottom.

This is a photo of when I was building up the sides of the basket.

This is a photo of when I started the purse lid. It was a challenge to try to get it to fit on the basket itself. I didn't do the best of jobs but I managed a lip on the inside, you can see it pictured here.

This is me pinning in the brown velvet lining I gave the basket purse. I managed to sew a little pocket into the side too!

 A Close up of the Tibetan Bone Om and Dorje clasp I fashioned from the pieces I bought at a Bead store. I used leather wrapped in Bee's Waxed Crawford's Irish Linen to wrap the basket, hinges, and clasps.
This is the beginning of the back of the basket and the hinges I made. This shot only shows it partially done but it is interesting to see photos of the basket while it was still in process.

I don't think this will be my last Purse attempt. I am designing a much more ambitious design with Tennerife for my next basket. I just finished a little basket with only one Tennerife motif in the center but it was a good one to start one. I will be graduating to multiple Tennerife designs on my next one.

Thanks for looking at the blog and if anyone has any insights into making Pine Needle Purses please comment as I am always looking to discuss!!

Kind Regards, Melissa

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Web of Time and Space

I started this basket in April 2012 while still in Florida. It is my first attempt at a Tennerife Lace which I decorated with moonstone and dyed jade beads. I treated these needles with a Glycerin bath, baked in the oven for several hours which darkens the needles and preserves them. I used Crawford's Waxed Linen Thread from Ireland. I finished this basket today, Sun. July 22, 2012.

I named the basket, "The Web of Space and Time" which is about the free flow of choosing freedom of positive intent.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pam Gotcher's "Desert Mesa" 1st Pine Needle Basket plus where it finally ended up!

My friend Pam Gotcher, who I met on Facebook.com through mutual friends, lives clear across the country in Washington State. She saw some of my posts on Facebook with examples of some of the baskets I was working in in early 2012 and became enamored by them. She asked me how to do it. I told her what I tell everyone, get Nadine Spiers videos. They are amazing! She bought nadine's video and watched the first part and started her basket. Apparently the video was corrupted just before she got to the second row and she couldn't watch it all.  She messaged me on Facebook and asked me questions about going onto the second row and I told her how to do it via instant message on Facebook!! I feel like I played a small but vital part in her development as a Pine Needle Basket maker. I recently I contacted Pam and asked her about her basket and if she had started a new one. She has a funny story about her basket.
Desert Mesa 

PAM GOTCHER'S REPLY: Like you, my basket making time has gotten a bit short this summer - between the garden, the log splitting, the bees, etc. The new one is taking some time. 

The first one has gone to it's new home and is in Australia. Funny story behind that. I was going to Phoenix for a Genome Healing conference, and had been offered a place to stay by a very old friend of mine. Her son runs a hotel down there. I was going to take the basket to her as a gift. About a week before leaving, the hotel thing had not been firmed up, and she wrote and said her son wanted a minimal amount a day for me to stay and I wrote back and said fine, and thanked her again. And then (still no hotel confirmation) - she dropped off the map - didn't return emails, I didn't have a phone number, son was on vacation, hotel didn't have a reservation for me. Figured I would rent a car and drive to the hotel and pay for a night and wait until the son came back from vacation the following day to see what was up. I had a mapquest direction, but I had asked (inadvertently) for directions to the venue for the conference, which was in a rented private home. Got there, found the conference organizer and the teachers. The head teacher asked if I wanted to stay there, so I got to stay with them. And she got the basket - and her whole house is in those colors. So, ultimately the woman who took care of my living arrangements in Phoenix got the basket  - it went to the person it was meant to, even though it didn't go to the woman I thought it would. That woman was Carol Roberts the instructor for the Genome Healing Conference I was attending. The power of intention is so strong and I feel like the basket went to exactly the person it should have gone to. In fact my life has really been revolving around consciousness and the effects of it in my life. That is why I was at the Genome Healing Conference. Their work is focused on the work of the Russians and healing. http://genomehealingworkshop.us/wps/
Beginning of Desert Mesa

Pam Gotcher's Walmart Tackle Box for Beads

Carol Robert's instructor of Genome Healing. She lives in Australia and that is where Pam's Pine Needle basket ended up!! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Extraordinary World Pine Needle Basket

Extraordinary World Pine Needle Basket Feb.-Mar. 2012

Florida Pines
This basket was my second Pine Needle Basket adventure. I had made my first basket, Quan Yin the year previously in winter 2011 but hadn't had the time to explore more Pine Needle basket making. My husband Charlie and I took our two dogs and drove to Florida in early 2012 to spend the winter there in a rented house. We wanted to see if we liked it there.

When we arrived, I started noticing the Pine Trees on the roadsides and in yards. At one point we were on a side road with many Pine Trees and I asked my husband to pull over. I picked up a few off the ground and realized I could use these to make a basket. I was excited because I had previously bought the Pine Needles online and it cost me $30 to make my first basket. We drove a little further and I saw a downed branch with a lot of brown dried pine needles. It was hung up on another branch so it wasn't touching the ground. My husband, Charlie and I gathered the needles off of that branch into a plastic bag we had in the car.

I took them home and washed them in the sink with hot water and Dawn dish washing liquid. Then I laid them out on cookie sheets covered in newspaper in the sun to dry. Those needles formed the very beginning of this basket.

washing needles
drying needles

I used a Chinese Turquoise Cabashon piece I had purchased on Ebay as the center which was glued to a piece of leather recycles from an old handbag. I used black Crawford Irish Linen Thread which was waxed with extra beeswax and started stitching in rows of pine needles. I then added some gorgeous Lapis Lazuli beads that I had recently acquired.  I next added a solid row of black.
Adding Solid Back Row

I built up the basket using Waxed Crawford Blue Irish Linen, Adventuring Beads, Tibetan Bone Beads from a recycled Buddhist Rosary, and more Lapis Lazuli. At one point about half way through the basket I ran out of needles so I looked for more under some roadside trees but the quality was very poor and they were old and dirty. I wondered what to do and then found a tree which grew in a spot where someone mowed underneath it and there was a paved walkway. I could find needles in this location which were freshly blown off the tree as they lightly rested on top of the grass or on the pavement. This was a huge leap for me and this is when I started looking for Pine Needles after wind storms in locations in Parks where there were bike paths and regular mowing being done. It was always an adventure looking for needles. 

When I look at the finished Exraordinary World Basket, I can see my journey to learning about how to get the freshest and best needles. In the end, the basket came out really well and I was very happy with it. At the time I was interested in an American man who became an initiated Naga Baba in Hardiwar, India by the name of Baba Rampuri. I had been reading his book, "Autobiography of a Sadhu: A Journey into Mystic India". In his book, Rampuri discusses the process of entering extraordinary worlds. It is a fascinating take on connecting to the natural order of the Universe and listening to the language of natural expression and articulation from a different perspective. For me, connecting to the natural environment and processes which are falling off trees all around me was in fact making sense of the Universe in a very primal and tactile way. The experience of finding the trees, picking up each Pine Needle, washing, sewing, waxing, touching, and tenderly loving it was truly a meditative and spiritual experience. All of this could be called artistic expression but truly speaking, it was a very primal, almost shamanistic experience of connecting to the natural language in the trees, wind, rain, ground, and pine needles around me in Florida. The cosmos speaks to you in ways you sometimes don't listen to or hear. The extraordinary world basket was a deeper connection to the universe at large. Even though this was only my second basket, it held a lot of beautiful energy because of this. The basket was purchased by a collector in South Carolina.

Adventurine Row
Finished Basket

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Collecting Pine Needles and my First Pine Needle Basket "Quan Yin" made with Tory Pine purchased on Ebay 2011

Florida Long Leaf Pine Trees

Depending on where you live, Long Leaf Pine Needles may be growing near your home. This tree is available throughout the southern United States from Virginia to Gulf of Mexico. The botanical name is Pinus Palustris.

In other parts of North America there are other versions of a long leaf pine needle. Many people use Tory Pine, Canary Island, and Guatamalan varieties with success. If you are not able to find them locally you can buy them on the internet from basket suppliers, Etsy sellers, and Ebay.

When I first made a Pine Needle Basket, I bought a lb. of Tory Needles on Ebay and they worked wonderfully.

The start of my very first Pine Needle Basket
Winter  2011

My first basket was my Quan Yin Basket utilizing a soapstone relief of the Chinese Goddess Quan Yin. I used Tibetan Bone Beads from an antique Tibetan Rosary I had collected years ago. The needles I purchased on Ebay worked well but were expensive. I wasn't going to be able to make very many baskets this way.

After my initial trials, I went for a trip to Florida last winter and I noticed all the long leaf Pine Trees. I started collecting needles locally, on Merritt Island. At first, I just picked up any old pine needle I found on the ground by roadsides.

This is a few minutes of collecting done
after a Wind Storm - Merritt Island, FL 2012

 I would see a copse of trees by a roadside, pull over, and scoop up what I could under the trees. I soon discovered that a lot of these needles had been laying around for a long time, perhaps even years. Not only were they very dirty, they also had mildew, and even bugs. I decided that I only wanted the freshest needles and I started looking in parks and parking lots where the lawn was often mowed under the trees. I also discovered that needles fell off the trees after wind storms and if had been particularly windy, it was a good time to look for needles. I found a large park with many Long Leaf Pine Trees on the perimeter. I looked for Pine cones on the ground and where there are pine cones, there are usually pine needles. The freshest needles have a nice new look about them.

Look for the lighter fresher looking
Needles near Pine Cones in Parks
where the grass gets mowed.

I started looking for these type of needles exclusively and it made a different using this type of discrimination in my selections. The Best time to gather needles is in the Fall You can, though, gather them anytime of year green and allow them to cure outside in the sun for at least two weeks until they turn a golden brown. You can collect boughs and hang them from a line or fence so as not to touch the ground.
Florida Long Leaf Pine Needles collected
on Merritt Island, FL 2012

The color of the needles can range from a light tan to a deep walnut color.
My first Basket - Quan Yin, done with
Tory Pine Needles purchased on Ebay
If you live in the Northern Climates where the pine needles are shorter you can use them with success but you will have to use lots of them.
I recently collected some short pine needles in Massachusetts which are short and very fine. I plan on experimenting and making a basket with them soon.  I will keep you updated on the progress using the shorter needles but I do believe I will be able to use them, I will just be feeding my bundle more often.