waterproof/water holding basket?

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JamPan

Forager
Jun 8, 2017
245
1
Yorkshire
So according to a fair few people who have clearly cut and pasted each others information around the web. People used to weave baskets for holding water, but I can't find anyone who has made one, or what it'd be made from.

I'm not interested in things made and sealed with tar etc... As that's easy enough. But I'd love to see something so perfectly woven it'll not leak.

Does anyone know of one or a link?
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,465
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McBride, BC
Waterproof hats were very common among coastal native groups here in the Pacific Northwest.
Presumably, you could turn the hat upside down as a water holding vessel.

Google UBC/MOA. Under Research and Collections, go to Collections Online.
There you will find some 45,000 objects that you can search through.
Search for "Haida hat" to see a number of examples made by Charles Edenshaw.

BTW, if you think that you would like to own such a hat, there have been some for sale. $3,000 - $4,000 each

I don't want to give you a specific link as there are so many neat things to look at.
Plan to spend 2 days in there. Very good lunch cafe', too.

There are simple birch bark hats shown in ch 13 (Barkcraft) from Wildwood Wisdom by Ellsworth Jaeger.
EJ was a museum curator and the book was originally published in 1945. No modern second-hand knowledge.
ISBN: 978-0-936070-12-4
Just remember that much of what can be done easily with paper birch bark
might be very difficult with your birch bark, such as folding a simple cup (likewise in ch 13).
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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I'll bet it takes some serious practice. The first 25 hats might leak.
Traditionally, youngsters were apprenticed to an uncle, aunt or a grandparent to spend many years learning these skills.

I've missed a few workshops for hat and basket weaving (palm fronds in the tropics, bull rushes here) but I'd like to try.

Now, if you were a native in eastern north america and waterproofing even a basket was of no concern,
you might learn to delaminate a Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra) log and weave baskets so tough, you can stand on them.
Google Black Ash Basket
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Ellsworth Jaeger's documentary book is 100% native and frontiersman bushcraft. I'm sure that modern media bushcrafters need to use it.
Even how to make a clay pipe for smoking mixtures. Folding a cup is pretty simple and quick. The book is 491+ pages for $18.00 USD.
Somewhere downstairs, I have a box of birchbark utensils and toys.

I'd like to feel the texture of a Haida hat. I used to know what they were made of. Maybe spruce root? Some sorts of barks?
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Depends on how big it needs to be.
Coffee mug size:
Square of thinnish bark, 12" x 12"
Fold the second corner up to the top corner (Second base to home plate, OK?)
Fold the righthand corner over to the left edge.
Fold the lefthand corner to the right edge.
Fold each top corner down the sides = squeeze it open, done.
 

JamPan

Forager
Jun 8, 2017
245
1
Yorkshire
That UBC/moa is just too interesting! I'm going to be looking at all kinds of things for a long time on there. I'll also have to buy that book too. :)

The one piece of bark containers are great and hold water, though it's more the skills of tightly weaving something well enough I'm interested in. It has to be possible, I guess with the material soaking up to expand and create a seal or such compression between the materials that nothing is getting through.
 

Toddy

Mod
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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
World wide all sorts of plants can be used. From stripped down fibres to bark. Have a google for Bangalow, Australian.
Those are water carrying baskets made by the native peoples from folded bark.

Here you can do it from rushes. The lake rush, used to be scirpus lacustris, but it's now schoenoplectus something or other.

When the rushes have been gathered and dried, and then re-soaked, they're like weaving with soft leather. We squeeze along their length to remove air before we weave with them. If you weave them tightly, twined weave, and weave them snug around a form (mostly we used the bottom of round flat based tubs now, but wooden formers were used in the past too) they shrink as they dry and they do become water tight, for a kind of damp value of tight. Mine holds a couple of litres. It feels damp to the touch, but I can carry water in it.

A wooden bucket works because the liquid swells the wood just enough to stop it leaking from between the planks while the binding straps stop them splaying out.

Basically all you need is something organic that swells with water enough to stop it leaking. Baskets do 'sweat' a bit though.

Thinking on it, the little foraging basket I made from the iris leaves, it holds water too, and I sewed it together with flax thread I made from flax I grew. The iris leaves I made into rope by hand so I can claim the whole thing as mine :)
 

SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
When I did a course in birch bark weaving, the teacher brought in a flask that she had made some years previously. It was weaved in the usual way, but all the strips were very carefully cut to a uniform width and she had weaved it very tightly, so that it wouldn't leak. (We were all suitable impressed!) I don't have any photos of it though.
Otherwise you often see people who have woven birch bark around an inner glass bottle, but that's obviously not what you want.

I guess it also depends on how long you want it to hold the water for as well - minutes, hours, days?

I've made square pots out of single pieces of birch bark that were completely watertight and could be used over a fire (with some care). I've also made a snuff box of birch bark and wood and that was tight enough to hold water, but I don't think it would have been good for it in the long run.

You could also try lining a woven basket (e.g. willow or bruce/spruce roots) with clay.
 

JamPan

Forager
Jun 8, 2017
245
1
Yorkshire
What an interesting bunch of folk you all are. :)

Around here I only seem to find inferior birch bark which makes sycamore bark seem amazing by comparison, even though that in itself isn't award winning. :) Luckily there's an abundance of willow, brambles and hazel within walking distance to keep me occupied.

Rushes. I'm going to have more of a scout but I haven't found any nearby along the river. They sound like the money. There are a few smaller lakes further out so I'll check those out.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
UBC/MOA is quite rare in having the online collection.
45,000 photographs of objects is quite a body of work.
They hold some 450,000 objects and maybe 30% (???) is on display.
I looked at a bunch of other big North American museums ( eg Field) with large anthropology holdings but nothing to speak of on line.

Question: Do you find cattails (Typha latifolia) in the UK?
I've only ever been able to spend short times in NYorks and don't recall seeing any.
Here, the harvested leaves are split into narrow strips and sorted by length for weaving.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
9,465
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McBride, BC
Thanks. The applications are boundless. What we have for Scirpus species never seems to be much used. Typha, yes.
I'm sure that every paleo culture on earth has made baskets from everything from grasses to bark and wood.

The waterproof Haida hats are woven from very finely divided inner western red cedar bark.
Children is Grade 5 in school are still taken into the forests on Haida Gwaii and taught to pull and process bark.
 

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