2010-02-15 Let it weave
Will the art of plaiting survive in Poland? Members of the association Serfenta were looking for answers to this question while travelling through Poland in search of little known artisans, hidden in their houses continuators of local traditions as well as folklore artists.
In the course of the project “Vistula weaving route” they have managed to reach around 100 persons, who continue to weave all sorts of fantastic handicrafts. However, the real number of artists who are engaged in this type occupation is not known. Once, this skill was extremely popular. In 1930 in the Włodawski district worked 357 basket-makers and they used about 58 tons of wicker and 10 tons of spools of reeds for the production – as reported by Adam Skuza, the author of book entitled “Extincting Poffessions”.
Only a few are aware of the artistry the plaiters demonstrated. They were able to weave containers from roots in which one could carry water. These vessels were even used as fire pails while putting out fire. In this kind of woven containers food and other things were stored as well. There were manufactured as well barrels made of straw and roots, wicker baskets, bowls, chests and plaited shoes.
The plating technique doesn’t require any specific tools and the material (wicker, pine tree and juniper roots, reeds, straw, birch bark, bast and phloem from elm, young sprouts of hazel, oak, juniper and spruce) was commonly available. The usefulness of these hand-made goods was priceless.
Today plaiting is rather a hobby than necessity. Wicker, pine-tree and spruce roots, roots and branches of juniper, straw reeds, bulrush, sweet flag are still used as much as dry leaves, grasses and flowers.
The craftsmen’s hand-made goods are still likely to be seen at the local markets as well as museums.