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.
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.
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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