It was difficult to choose just one article for August’s edition of Patty’s Pick, but we finally came to a decision and I’m sharing this excellent article by author Phyllis Staton Campbell.
They’re decorative, they’re useful, and they’re a part of any culture you can think of. Remember that little Jewish baby left sleeping safely in the bullrushes? Bet he was snuggled in a basket, woven by his mother. Okay, my imagination has taken flight, but, hey, I’m a writer.
Seriously, beyond a doubt, early man, long before such Scripture accounts must have used some form of basket. Many, like those of the Native American tribes, were decorative as well as useful. And here goes my imagination again, I wonder if those women may have practised a bit of rivalry in the decoration department. As this issue’s column will demonstrate, baskets can be things of beauty, often reflecting the personality of the maker.
When I was a pupil at the Virginia School for the Blind, we actually had basketry classes. Do I hear “How terrible! What a dreadful image of the blind!” Not so. We learned to use our hands in a creative way while creating something attractive and useful, something in which we could take pride. Nobody suggested that we make basket making our career, but it was an important part of our lives.
And just to prove me right, enter Lynn Kelleher, OS reader from California.
She wrote to tell me about her hobby, and I was fascinated. Why? After all, I had my own experience with making baskets and the like, was I fascinated? True, but Lynn’s baskets are something different and wonderful. Her baskets aren’t woven, but coiled. This is an ancient form of basket making practised by many cultures. Among them various Native American tribes used this method, and the resulting baskets were/are lovely.
For fear that I might get something wrong, I’m going to quote directly from Lynn’s letter.
“I am a basket maker. The baskets I make are not woven, but are coiled. They are made from long pine-needles. I enjoy this because I am able to recycle nature’s trash, to form a useful and decorative basket. I gather the pine-needles wherever I can find them. I wash them, and dry them. Lastly, I wrap the dried needles in heavy paper or in bundles, so they don’t get broken. When dried they are quite brittle. I put a few pine-needles through a piece of a drinking straw to form the coil. The straw acts as the gauge for the thickness of the coil. Whenever the straw becomes lose I add more pine-needles to it. Using an overhand stitch, I sew the coils together to form a container or basket.” (note This is done with waxed linen thread.)
Lynn goes on to say that she feels this is a perfect craft for those who are totally blind. It is relatively simple and very tactile.
She points out further, that for those of us who don’t drive, and thus can’t shop at will for gifts, it’s good to have these unique baskets on hand when the need arises.
She finds it especially gratifying to be able to gather pine-needles from the property of the person who is to receive the gift. This makes the gift particularly unique for
I asked Lynn if she sells her baskets. She said that she has a few at a local consignment shop, but doesn’t take orders.
“The one problem with it,” she said, “is that it is slow to complete. By slow, I mean that you can’t complete the usual basket in two hours or so.”
She has a tray that holds the materials so that she can stop at will, and continue at another time.
This is a relatively inexpensive hobby, the most expensive part being the waxed linen thread. She separates her different colors of thread, so that she knows which she is going to use, just as the knitter or crocheter does when doing color work. She says that different colored thread, beads or natural products makes this hobby more interesting.
I was fascinated that all kinds of things can be used to form the coil, thus changing the size of the project. She says that because most workshops and items in catalogs rely on sight, this is a craft that requires one’s own sense of creativity. Although certainly, this is true of many crafts, I can see where it is especially true here. She is required to decide on the project itself, what it will be, how large etc, as well as on the material and colors to be used. In a cookie-cutter world, I find this especially refreshing. I like to imagine Lynn sitting there in front of her tray, a sort of alchemist of beauty, choosing her materials, project and decoration.
She tells me that the basket maker using this unique method isn’t limited to small projects, but by using something as large as a hose, may carry their creativity to almost any height.
Lynn urges her fellow blind crafters and would-be crafters to seek projects that are attractive in a tactile way. She urges simplicity, at least at first. She stands ready to answer any questions that readers may have.
Contact her at Ki6qzv@aol.com
About The Author:
Phyllis Staton Campbell, born blind, writes about the world she knows best.
She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.
Though born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she now lives not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.
Patty and I have chosen this super article by Phyllis Campbell, featuring an interview with David Feucheux from Louisiana. David is a reader of a column that Phyllis writes for THE BLIND POST.
Phyllis had never heard of David’s hobby and pounced on him immediately for an interview. I, on the other hand, have – although I’ve haven’t tried it… yet!
David, a graduate of the Louisiana school for the blind, says that he has always wanted a hobby, but somehow couldn’t seem to settle on one until he discovered kumihimo.
Here is a description of it in David’s own words.
“Kumihimo is a type of braiding. It is done on a loom-type device. Imagine an octagon. Each of the 8 sides has 4 narrow slits. The octagon is made of the same material as flip-flops.
You arrange seven or eight strands in various slits. Each of the slits is numbered from 1 to 32. You cross certain strands over other strands in a certain pattern. You then turn the loom and do again. It’s rather hypnotic.”
David goes on to say:
“Here is a bit of background from a book I consulted.
Taken from the book Kumihimo Wire Jewelry by Giovanna Imperia
“Braids are common in many cultures, where they have served a wide range of functions–from practical applications to decorations on garments to key elements in religious ceremonies. Some braiding traditions developed independently in different regions, which led to the emergence of unique designs and structures. Some braiding traditions developed as a result of cultural migration. A good example of the latter is the development of kumihimo in Japan.
There are also many different processes that are used in braiding. Some braids are made without the aid of tools. Other braids are made using a stand, typically round, and weighted bobbins. Among the cultures using stands, Japan is unique in that braids are made using a number of specialized stands, not just a round one.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF KUMIHIMO
“The term kumihimo means intersected threads. It refers to any type of braid executed using the loop-manipulation method (which does not require equipment) or any number of stands.
Kumihimo has a very long history in Japan, where some early examples of impressions of braided structures on pottery date back to the Jomon period (8000-300 BC). By the Kofun period (4th-6th centuries), braids had become common thanks in large part to the diffusion of Buddhism. According to research by Masako Kinoshita, many of the early braids, such as the ones in the Shosoin treasure house (Nara period, AD 645-784), were probably executed using the loop-manipulation braiding technique.
Over the centuries, kumihimo became an integral part of the Japanese culture, where it assumed uses that ranged from the functional (such as ties for prayer scrolls or as lacing devices for the samurai armor, which required nearly three hundred silk braids) to the decorative (such as embellishments for Buddhist statues and rosaries as well as obijime, a narrow braided belt that holds the much wider obi in place). Because of its role in Japanese culture, over time, many different pieces of equipment were developed, which helped artisans produce braids faster and of consistent quality while developing new and more complex structures and designs.
Automated machines, developed later in the Meiji period (1867-1912), allowed for even faster production. These machines are still in use today, as are five braiding stands: the Maru Dai, Taka Dai, Karakumi Dai, Kaku Dai, and
David says he first heard of kumihimo in 2010. When a short course was offered in January of 2014, he took it.
Although he had actually only been pursuing his hobby for about three months at the time of the interview in April, he was enjoying it a lot. He says that one good thing about kumihimo is that he is able to figure out a lot of it for himself, making progress easier, and to me, more challenging.
He uses various types of cord in his projects, although some people use wire. David says that so far that is beyond him, but something tells me that will be in his future.
When I asked about his hobby goals he said
“I’d like to learn several other braiding styles. I also want to learn to attach clasps to bracelets and other projects. I’d also like to learn to use the rectangle loom. I am told it is used to make belts.
“I am about to make a bracelet using magatama beads. These are a particular kind of Japanese bead sold by the website www.primitiveoriginals.com
Kathy James who runs the website is very helpful.
When I asked David what advice he would give anyone thinking about trying kumihimo he said,
“Go ahead and try it. The people at the website http://www.primitiveoriginals.com are very happy to help. I’d be happy to email with anyone trying to learn the craft. The NFB has a crafters division at www.krafterskorner.org. It is a good resource for crafter types.”.
When I asked David if he had any other special interests he said,
“My secret dream is to have several works published. I am not good at writing. I wanted to write one about my time at a blind school before this entire culture is forgotten by a younger, hipper, more fortunate, perhaps less appreciative, generation of blind who have no idea what it was like to go far away from home at a young age and meet nice and not-so-nice teachers, house parents, and fellow students.
I want to write two nonfiction works, one is a diary, it’s in process, as I got the idea from Kathy Schneider, and the other about an ancestor who came here from the Canary Islands in 1779 at age 10. The latter would be a long epic historic fiction novel, Inca, in the style of Gary Jennings’s Aztec, but it’s not likely.
If I can get the diary and the blind fiction I’ll be pleased. I don’t describe myself as a writer. I do not enjoy it, and I do not feel like I have to write. It’s a means to an end. Characters do not pour through my head either. It’s work.”
Trust us, David, all who write find it work if they’re honest, at least with themselves. ~Phyllis
About the Author:
Phyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.
Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.
I’ve made two wedding cards this month. One was for my son who got married on the 8th of August and one for my nephew who gets married next month.
Wedding Card (1)
I cut a heart from a square of white card, and 2 more hearts of the same size, giving you three hearts..
The square of card was embossed with Scruffy Little Cat – Chic Embossing Folder along with two of the hearts.
The two embossed hearts were trimmed for the overlapped front of the third heart.
The trimmed front pieces were attached to the back heart with double-sided sticky tape.
I stuck some thin lilac ribbon down the centre of some wider white ribbon and threaded this through a small pearl buckle. I wrapped the ribbon around the heart stuck the ends to the back.
I stuck some white and lilac flowers and leaves between the rear heart and the overlapped front and then stuck it at an angle on the square piece of card, slightly overlapping the aperture.
I attached more of the lilac on white ribbon to the reverse of the heart aperture and added a peel-off ‘congratulations’ to the front.
I cut and folded a piece of white card to size then layered a square of silver paper, then a layer of white card and another layer of silver paper before adding the embossed layer. I added 3 graduated stick on pearls to the bottom corner and a heart shaped stick on pearl to the ‘congratulations’ ribbon.
Wedding Card (2)
I designed and cut the front panel from a piece of white pearlised card on my scan’n’cut then pleated some white ribbon on the reverse.
I printed the greeting and names and stuck those on the reverse of the panel then added some flowers and leaves to the front.
I cut and folded a piece of white card to size then layered a square of lilac paper, then a layer of white card and another layer of lilac paper before adding the panel.
Late Friday afternoon, I had an urgent request for 15 cupcake boxes, from my dear, and ever so delightful daughter.
She needed them by Saturday morning for her partners party later!
As she was happy for them to be plain and simple, I said I would try to get them done.
I needed something quick and easy, so I adapted a template from a free e-book to a cutting file for my scan’n’cut. I cut all 15 boxes on the scan’n’cut in the time it would have taken me to cut one or two by hand.
I then had them all to score by hand, though, just me, a hougie board and a bone folder, which took a while!
Early Saturday morning I used double-sided tape to stick the boxes together, then I threaded some ribbon through the tops.
All done, with time to spare for me to get ready and go.
I made two more cards today… a flowery card and a quick, masculine one.
Parasol with Flowers
I ran a strip of pale blue pearl card through my eBosser with the Chantilly Rose Tattered Lace Die. I had to run it through twice to get the length I wanted.
I repeated this with a strip of matt card, in a similar shade of blue.
From the same matt card, I cut 3 small rectangles, which I also cut with the same die. I cut them into triangles, leaving ‘tabs’ on two of them. I scored each one down the centre, along the tab and along the outermost scorelines, for a mountain fold ( /\ ) and half-way between the edge and the centre for a valley fold ( \/ ). Then I glued the tabs to the back of the centre triangle.
I scored and folded a piece of white card for the base of the birthday card
I cut a sheet of double-sided patterned paper from a First Edition Neroli paper pad in half, and then cut one piece in half again.
I stuck the quarter piece of patterned paper, with the darker side facing up, onto the card base with double-sided tape. Overlapping each previous piece, I stuck down the strip of die-cut matt card, followed by the die-cut pearl card, and finally the half piece of patterned paper, with the lighter side showing.
Folding the edges of the parasol back, from the outermost scorelines, I attached it to the card with double-sided tape.
I threaded 3 pearl beads onto a cocktail stick for the handle and stuck it to the card, along with some flowers from my stash.
I used my scan’n’cut to cut the HAPPY BIRTH’D’AY from a piece of stripey green card, printed out a picture from Pollyanna Pickering’s Britsh Wildlife DVD-ROM and glued it behind the ‘D’. Then stuck this onto a folded piece of green card, and added 3 self-adhesive pearls to the top corner.
For the past couple of days, I’ve been making personalised popcorn boxes. My daughter asked me to make these for her partners birthday party.
I’ve made 25 large boxes and another 25 smaller ones.
They are really easy to make… the hardest part was getting the design right before printing.
Once they were printed I cut them out. I used my guillotine for the straight edges, along the top and sides, and scissors for the rest. I used my Hougie Board to score the folds, stuck it together with double-sided tape and tucked the bottom flaps in so they looked like this…
The larger boxes had to be printed and cut in two pieces, as they were too big for a piece of A4 card/paper.