When I was in Rigolet for the Nunatsiavut Heritage Forum, I spent an evening learning how to make grasswork. It was my first time sewing grass, and my results were not exactly perfect. But if you’re going to learn how to make grasswork anywhere, Rigolet is the place to do it. The craftspeople there are experts!
A lot of work goes into making a basket, or a bowl, or any piece of grasswork. I think if you were to see a piece in a craft store for the first time, you might get sticker shock, but once you actually looked at it, you’d know that SO much work and talent goes into making a single piece. It’s actually watertight!
Nowadays, most pieces of grasswork are ornamental, but it also used to be quite functional. My grandfather told me about gun cases being made from grass. Now THAT’S a lot of work!
The grasswork made in Labrador (it can be found elsewhere in Labrador, but the epicentre of it all is really Rigolet) is made by sewing pieces of grass around bunches of more grass. It isn’t just any kind of grass, either–you need to know just where and when to harvest this kind of sea grass. You can’t just go out and let your lawn get overgrown. 😉
I was taught by Sarah Baikie. I’ve known Sarah for a few years, and she’s known my family for longer, so it was nice to learn from her. She was a good teacher…you can’t blame the quality of my work on her, that’s for sure. 😀
I found it to be a relaxing activity. Of course, I wasn’t doing it for hours (I suppose then it could get very repetitive, in a not-so-good way) but I quite enjoyed it. I could picture myself doing it on a winter’s evening while basking in the warmth of a woodstove. It would be quite meditative, I think, just doing the same thing over and over (with some variation, of course, depending on what you’re making). Kind of like knitting that way.
Thanks goes out to Mark Turner for taking the photos of me making my first piece of grasswork! (Hey, you never know, I might pick it up again someday…it’s in my blood and everything!)