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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

FAQ: Pine Needle Baskets

Here's an FAQ from a customer to Oregon Hand-Crafted Pine Needle Baskets...

Customer:  Why are Pine Needle Baskets so Expensive?

One of the main reasons pine needle baskets cost so much is because they take a lot of time to make.  It’s hard work and doing a quality piece takes lots of time and practice.  It’s not only coiling the piece, but all the work just getting to that point in the process.

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Material costs are pricey.  Pine Needles cost about $20.00 per pound, if you have to purchase them. Although I gather my own needles, going to pick them up has costs involved including time, labor and gas (to get to the trees).  Sorting and cleaning needles takes considerable time and space as well. 

I also gather, dry and slice my own black walnuts. If I were to purchase the sliced black walnuts, they would cost $.75 each. The cost of wood (if used) is minimal, but holes must be drilled (very time consuming). If flowers are used, they must be grown or purchased, pressed and dried then decoupaged to the wood.

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Baskets with large agates in the bottom require seed bead bezels around the agates which are hand-made. I can make about 1-1/2 inches an hour and most bezels are 12-20 inches.

Many other items are needed to complete the basket as well: sewing needles, various types of threads (I use mostly artificial sinew), gages to keep the coils even, embellishments such as rocks, beads, and the list goes on and on.
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After the pine needles are cleaned and sorted, they need to be soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes before the ends can be removed.  Removing the ends is incredibly time consuming, as this is done by hand one bunch at a time. After all the preparation work is complete an average basket takes 6-8 hours of coiling. Then baskets must be dried usually overnight.  If the basket is to have a finish, to give it strength, durability and a longer life it must be applied and an additional drying time is required. 

This is a quick overview of what it takes to prepare and make a pine needle piece. I hope this helps to explain some of the steps a coiler must do to create such a beautiful basket.

Each basket has a little bit of my heart and soul.

Jan Bullock
Oregon Hand-Crafted Pine Needle Baskets

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