I like to make stuff. You know, something to do while dh is watching reruns of CSI or NCIS. (What’s with the initials, anyway? I’d wonder if it was a guy thing except I just referred to my hubby as dh.) Anyway, I spend almost as much time looking for something to do with my hands while ensconed in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea or can of pop as I do actually making whatever.
Over time, I’ve made decorative gourds. And jewlery. And wood plaques. And a few other things I can’t even remember what they were, just that they were fun.
The thing is, I have specific requirements for said hobby. No mess beyond what takes a minute to clean up, and that was a big problem with the wood plaques because anything requiring paint necessitates a mess. Jewelry came close but I soon discovered that anyone who makes jewelry should also wear it in order to know what kind of jewelry to make.
Did I mention that the fundamental, can’t-be-changed, iron-clad requirement for whatever I do is that it can be sold at the venues, both indoor and outdoor, where we sell my husband’s wood-turned art? And that is has to complement whatever he makes?
Gourds were great. For a while. I cleaned them and that was a mess at the sink but it was acceptable because, once they were clean, then the mess was done with. Since I love woodburning, the gourds came out great with woodburned designs and I sometimes color-washed them later. Also a mess but not too bad. Then one day as I was demonstrating the technique of woodburning on gourds at an art show, a woman asked me why I wasn’t wearing a respirator. I didn’t know what she was talking about but when I got home I went online and learned that gourds are a health hazard until they are finished and all those pathogens are locked up beneath a heavy coat of varnish. Needless to say, that was the end of gourds.
Then we joined a local farmers’ market group because… surprise, surprise… since Dick only and always uses indigenous wood, his art is considered a value added local agricultural crop. So then I decided that I’d come up with something to make while watching TV that was also agricultural in nature.
I’m not a gardener so that let out growing something that people would actually want to eat. But I’ve become something of an expert on the wild grasses in our area because they look good in Dick’s weed pots. A marketing ploy, but in the process of picking and arranging all those wild grasses, I came to enjoy the process. So I wondered what I could do that would use the excessive crop of weeds… uh, I mean wild grasses… that grow in the field beyond our yard.
So I’m making baskets and it’s fun! I tried several varieties of weeds… I mean grasses… before finding one that is flexible enough to wind into the tight circles that coiled baskets require while also being thick enough to make a decent basket. When I found just the right grass, I took it to our local extension agent to find out what it was, but she didn’t recognize it because the sample was dried and, therefore, unrecognizable immediately. I should mention here that anyone making grass baskets should harvest the grass after the growing season, just like any other crop, because green grass will shrink as it dries, thus making a loose basket. Anyway, the extension agent will get back to me when she figures out what kind of weeds… I mean grasses… I’m using and then I’ll get back to you.
In the meantime, with the help of dh, I’m making another kind of basket also. I’m using wood bottoms Dick made for me and that I woodburned designs on. They look great. Then I use dowel rods for staves around the sides of the basket that I weave natural rope through that I found at our local farm store. Together we made a dozen or so such baskets for a local company to put on the counters of local stores to hold handmade goodies that they make.
It’s been a kind of Eureka moment. I finally found something that’s fun and should be profitable if the cost of similar baskets on Etsy is any indication of what we can charge. Okay, maybe they don’t actually sell for that amount, maybe the prices are more an indication of what the artist thinks they are worth rather than what they will actually bring on the open market, but at least someone thinks they have enough value to make the whole idea of baskets worth pursuing.