20 May 2008


A few weeks ago Makereta texted me to ask if I wanted to take the weaving class that she teaches at the local community college. For an eight week course, it is only $45. She had taught me to weave a flower from New Zealand flax when we went together to Waikouaiti a few months ago, and then her mother made me a terrific woven handbag while we were on the north island. I had been thinking that it would be cool to take a weaving class, so I was eager to tell her that I would definitely take the class and definitely give her a ride!

So far I have only made flowers. Tonight we will be making a little purse. Soon I will learn to make other basic things including baskets and vases. Eventually I would love to be able to make a purse like Vilia made for me. Here are some photos:I've been putting the flowers on the window sill. What are those brown things, you ask? Well, Eric brings home buckeyes for me sometimes, and I never quite know what to do with them. So, there they are. When babies come over, they try to eat the buckeyes. When grownups come over, they say, "You know, those aren't the kind you can roast and eat." And then we have to explain that we had no intention of eating them, it's just that Eric was a Buckeye Baby. But this post is about weaving, not about buckeyes, so stop distracting me with your incessant questions about the buckeyes.

Those are some close-ups of the flowers so you can see them a bit better. Once they are dried, I will dye them.

This is the WAY awesome bag that Vilia made me. As you can see, it is very intricate. The flax strips are quite narrow, which made it possible to do such a detailed pattern. Of course, it also means that a lot more work was involved in making it. New Zealand flax is a very sturdy plant, which is why the Maoris used it to make so many day-to-day necessities like baskets and roofs. I am crazy about this bag because it is the perfect size to be my seminary bag. The handles are woven into the top, so I don't have to worry about them popping out, and it's just such a funky and beautiful bag! Plus, I assured Vilia that I would use the bag and not just let it be a decoration for my home.

New Zealand flax is different than other types of flax. There are a variety of types of plants, but essentially they look like the picture below. It grows abundantly here, which is the reason the Maoris began using it in their weaving. Historically, weaving, or raranga (pronounced with rolled Rs and with each A sounding like the A in father) was only done by older people within the tribes who had spent ages learning the different patterns. There was even a sort of initiation for people to become the tribal weavers. But, within the last several years the Maoris recognized that the skill was dying in the culture because it had been so long reserved for only a few people. Because of that, the skill has been revitalised (Do you like the British spelling? It's because I live in New Zealand!) among the younger generations. As I make more cool things, I'll be sure to take and post photos.

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