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» What arts and craft things have you been making lately?
by Ploshkin 20th February 2019, 10:33 am

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What arts and craft things have you been making lately?

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Post by Chilli-head on 17th February 2019, 8:39 pm

I spent most of Saturday repairing a laundry basket.  Why ? Good question. It fits perfectly in C-H Jnr's wardrobe - which is not coincidental as it was part of the design of the wardrobe shelving. Can we find a new one of a similar size ? No chance.

So, repaired the broken framework of the lid, rewove the basketry where it had all come unravelled because of the broken frame.  That was the easy bit.  Then to replace the cloth liner.  I found an old cotton sheet with enough good fabric to do the job, then hauled out my old adversary - the Riccar sewing machine - preparing myself for the inevitable battle starwars But this time, I'm afraid I lost.  Sewing completed by hand, and Riccar machine thrown in the tip pile.  Can't make it go.  The belt is slipping, which I could fix, but the dratted thing won't sew whatever I do. All lubricated and moving freely, but it keeps breaking the thread where it goes through the needle, and no stitches are being made - seems like it is not catching the top thread with the shuttle. I tried all sorts of four letter words, none of them helped.  Enough ! time for a new one.

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Post by Ploshkin on 18th February 2019, 10:47 am

Funny you should have been doing a laundry basket CH.  For ages now I have been wanting to learn how to make a skep and a week or so ago I went on a skep making day.  It was a really good day with a group of 12 people and the tutor was excellent.  I a slow doer so I didn't get as far as some people but we all went home with the tools, straw and knowhow to complete the skep.  The tool is a ropemaker's fid.  I didn't know that this type of construction is known as lipwork.  The straw we used is Triticale.  I will get it finished but as you end up splashing water around and getting straw everywhere it's not really an indoor job so I will get it out when the weather warms up a bit.  It doesn't look particularly impressive but here it is.
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Post by FloBear on 18th February 2019, 12:22 pm

Well, I'm impressed, Ploshkin!
Looking forward to seeing the finished article though I presume there is a way to go if a skep is what I think it is.
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Post by Chilli-head on 18th February 2019, 12:55 pm

That looks rather a nice job Ploshkin. What is the stuff used to bind round the straw ? I presume that is the bit that needs soaking. Do you just add new lengths of straw to the bundle when you come to the end of the existing ones, so as to keep the bundle the same thickness ?
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Post by Ploshkin on 18th February 2019, 1:46 pm

The binding is rattan cane (I think) used for basket making and does need wetting to keep it pliable. Traditionally, bramble is used for binding and the tutor showed us how to strip and cut brambles for the job - rather laborious. I learnt something though - I didn't know that bramble is pentagonal in section.
All of the straw passes through a feeder, traditionally a section of cow horn but we used a piece of plastic pipe, I've also seen sections of plastic bottle top used. You keep poking straw into the centre of the bundle to keep the feeder filled. We started off with less but increased the thickness of the bundle once the first couple of tight rounds were complete. Also, traditionally, a goose leg bone with the end pared to a point is used as a fid.
If / when I get this one completed I may have a go with rushes which are plentiful round here. I didn't think they would be long enough but although the straw used is long, by the time you've stripped off the leaves and heads it's considerably shorter.

It was a fact finding mission really, I would like to have a small group of people in the beekeeping Association who know how to do it so that we can have our own workshops as it's difficult and expensive to find someone to come and do a day. One of our members has a brother in law who is a thatcher so we have a source of suitable straw.
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Post by Dandelion on 18th February 2019, 7:08 pm

It looks good Ploshkin - keep us up to date with your progress. Was it hard on the hands?

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 18th February 2019, 8:00 pm

Ooh yes, Dandelion, it was hard on my crappy hands.
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Post by freebird on 20th February 2019, 10:17 am

It looks really good, Ploshkin ...... but, straw? I thought that was the cause of your health problems last winter.
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Post by Ploshkin on 20th February 2019, 10:33 am

A few handfuls of clean straw are no problem. Spreading a big round bale every day for 6 months, when the straw contains / may contain mould spores, is to be avoided. We're using straw in the sheep shed and I keep well out of the way when the pens are strawed down but in the couple of months the sheep are in the shed we will probably use less than 10 big bales. For the cows we would have used over 200. This year, the straw is very clean because of the good summer. Last year the straw was very dusty because of the excessively wet summer in 2017.
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