Willow Harvest

In one very productive week and with help from Bill and friends, my willow crop is cut, sorted, and the long rods have been cleaved and coiled for skeining next year. 

Donna Kallner with some of the 2016 willow harvest.

The time to harvest willow for basketry is generally when the plant is dormant. I like to cut my beds in late November — after the leaves have dropped but before the snow starts to pile up. Last year’s crop I harvested late so I could peel the willow after the buds broke in spring. That worked really well, but other uncertainties make it better for me to harvest in fall. So we’re trying another method generously shared by Dawn Walden.

Continue reading Willow Harvest

Holiday Sales Begin

If we didn’t have an annual studio open house I would probably never get my windows washed. The cleaner version of my work space only lasts a short time. But for one weekend a year, Bill and I return to our retail roots.  

We enjoy visiting with friend and hearing their questions and comments about our work. They give us lots of good ideas! This year, we extended our hours to include Friday afternoon as well as Saturday. It helped spread out the traffic and I think made it easier for us to talk with just about everyone who came.

Continue reading Holiday Sales Begin

November Means Studio Sale

Our annual holiday studio sale is this weekend, which means the next few days will be a flurry of pricing and tagging products to sell, cleaning my working studio (which truly needs it), and transforming that space into a comfortable place to shop.

donna-kallner_studio-sale

It never feels like I’m quite ready, but this year especially feels like a lot of things have slipped through my fingers. Including the typo in the image above. But after being gone for three weeks in October, I feel like it’s an achievement just to be wearing clean underwear.

Continue reading November Means Studio Sale

Singing The Fresh Leaf Blues

My latest attempt at an organic vat from fresh-leaf homegrown Japanese indigo has me singing the blues — the pale, grayish, stinky blues. And while this batch of yarn counts as a dye fail, I learned some things getting here.

The yarns look better than they really are, but there’s no point letting them dry out for a photo. I’ll keep changing the water until the odor is gone, then overdye them. Probably in a fresh-leaf vat reduced with Thiox. Because it’s the end of August, which in northern Wisconsin means our growing season could end in six weeks or six days. 

Continue reading Singing The Fresh Leaf Blues

Snipping My Way To Color

Natural dye material is ready to harvest just about everywhere you turn here in rural northern Wisconsin, where I’m snipping as fast as I can. It’s nice to have a reason to slow down for a bit and enjoy dyeing with a friend.

The angel who started my Japanese indigo last spring came over yesterday morning. We combined leaves snipped from her plants and mine and had a nice visit while the pot warmed gently over a two-hour period. 

Continue reading Snipping My Way To Color

Gathering Bulrush And Leeches

The last time I cut bulrush where we went today to harvest was about 10 years ago. I never harvest much in any one spot. My goal is always that when I leave, my activity should be undetectable and not diminish the resource in any way. But today I took out more than my share — of leeches.

Bulrush harvested to dry for cordage.

In the past when the lake level was lower, Bill and I just waded in and cut here and there. With some heavy rains this summer, lake levels are higher.

Continue reading Gathering Bulrush And Leeches