Trying a new craft

GW-title

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!

Naomi is one of those craftspeople who can make anything, and make it perfectly! Grasswork is just one of her many talents.

Naomi is one of those craftspeople who can make anything, and make it perfectly! Grasswork is just one of her many talents.

Garmel Rich is another well-known grass worker.  Her work is impeccable!

Garmel Rich is another well-known grass worker. Her work is impeccable!

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. 😉

Sarah teaching James from the Hudson's Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg.  James' grasswork actually turned out really well, and the rest of us first-timers were jealous.

Sarah teaching James from the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg. James’ grasswork actually turned out really well, and the rest of us first-timers were jealous. As a side note, James was really nice and I hope that I can go out to the HBCA sometime and see where he works too!

Sandra of the Rigolet Heritage Society with Belinda

Sandra of the Rigolet Heritage Society with Belinda

Joan of the White Elephant Museum learning grasswork.

Joan of the White Elephant Museum learning grasswork.

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.

Sarah guiding me through the process.

Sarah guiding me through the process.

I kept my concentration, even with Jon, Bea, Sarah and Patty all talking around me.

I kept my concentration, even with Jon, Bea, Sarah and Patty all talking around me. And a camera. Nothing like working under pressure!

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!)

Aimee

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Filed under Aimee, fun, travel

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