English Ivy Bike Basket

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Everyone talks shit on English Ivy; its invasive behavior has given it a bad rap. A while ago I started to feel empathy for the plant and wonder what kind of relationship I could begin to have with the plant, other than pulling it off of native trees and letting it rot in an ugly pile on the side of a trail.

English Ivy works great for making baskets. It has flexibility and durability. Not as stiff and strong as willows, but it works very well. Why not make something useful and beautiful out of the remains of your ivy pull? I pulled a bunch of ivy from the Washington Park archery range last year and have had it drying out in my room ever since. I figured the October rewild camp would serve as a good time for me to finally experiment with it.

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I soaked it over night in a big rubber container. I couldn’t quite remember how to begin the twining basketry style so I had to experiment and just go with what sort of worked. Not the best idea for strength, but in the end it worked out alright. Some of the ivy snapped even though it had soaked over night. I probably should have soaked it for more like 2 days. Although some of it felt slimy and soft and had started to rot so maybe not. I accidentally stabbed myself under the thumb nail with my bone awl and bled quite a bit. I almost gave up at the begining but once I got it working and forced myself to keep going it worked out really well. I have a nicely made basket which I tied to my bike with some left over brain-tanned buckskin.

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English Ivy also has medicinal properties. But I’ll save that for some other blog! I encourage you to read about its ecological function as well and start to create a healthy relationship with this invasive. Learn how to help the plant do its job, while learning how it can help humans, all while keeping it from killing the native trees and shrubs!

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11 Comments on “English Ivy Bike Basket

  1. Yes! Definitely time to stop shitting on English Ivy. Anyone who doesn’t get the irony calling certain plants “exotic invasives” at this point has really got some serious reflection to do.

    Beyond the pot calling the kettle black, even “exotic invasives” deserve compassionate, honorable deaths where their bodies go on to generate beautiful things and more life.

    It takes so much to make a single basket – you can both tend the forest and honor the death of the ivy in the same swoop.

    Nice basket, Scout.

  2. Talk about turning a lemon into lemonade!! This is awesome. I suggest you make these baskets and sell on etsy or similar site, using the ivy that folks remove from Forest Park and other relatively wild places in Portland. There’s a nonprofit org (maybe the No Ivy League (http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=47820), they would probably give you the spoils of their plunder.

  3. Brilliant, Scout!

    You have created a beautiful functional basket!

    English Ivy you are now loved!

  4. Beautiful work, both with your basket and your drive to create a relationship with what was previously scorned.

    This has inspired me to get into basketry with local plants, invasive or native. Thanks mate.

  5. English Ivy Bike Basket Raffle?

    Dear Scout,

    Might you have the time to make another basket or two or three?

    and ….

    perhaps have an EIBB Raffle?

    Yes?

  6. This has also inspired me to learn basket weaving. What an awesome idea. You know it seems like I read an article a while back about a certain city park “renting” a herd of goats to clean up a park that was overrun with blackberries and ivy. If I remember correctly the goats went to town and ate every last living thing in the park! (except the trees of course)

  7. Thank you for following through on your idea. I have been thinking about basket making as a way to make peace with settling in Great Britain from Canada. I’m in the middle of my third month. Your site that I found via Google was the only one that didn’t want to sell me something and was willing to share knowledge for the joy of it.

  8. Nice basket. Wisteria is also really fun for the same use. Fencing is another option, but my guess is that’s not very re-wild. ;0)

  9. nice basket and great idea Scout,

    I have been doing up my old bike with a fresh coat of paint and would love to have a basket on it, I think I could make this and I have ivy growing in my back yard, did you also use ivy for the frame of your basket?

    ps. this is my first time to your blog, it’s pretty cool.

  10. Hey Lynda,

    I used willow for the base. I kind of messed up around the bottom base and forgot a step, but it wasn’t a big deal. the book “Handmade Baskets” follows how to do this very very well. It has really great pictures too.

    Scout