Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gathering and Preparing Black Fern

With the twining technique of basketry that we use on the Klamath River, we make great use of overlay materials to produce intricate patterns.  Three of these materials are bear grass (which I talked about in my previous post), black fern, and woodwardia fern (which I’ll cover in a later posting).

Here’s a picture of the ceremonial cap I made this year, which shows all three materials.

The stalk of the black fern (ikritápkir in Karuk).  has a black side and a red side when it’s gathered.  I use the handle of a pocket knife to run down the stalk, applying enough pressure to split the stem. The red side is discarded and the black side is scraped with a knife to remove the green pulp. These strips of black fern are dried and stored, ready to be soaked and used as an overlay material creating the beautiful (and somewhat delicate) shiny black in our baskets.

… and here’s a close-up picture of a black fern stalk in the process of being split.

Click on this YouTube link to view our trip to gather black fern.  It takes just over eight minutes.


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