Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

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Udwin
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Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Udwin » Sun Aug 21, 2016 2:34 pm

As someone who does more than a fair amount of foraging and gathering throughout the year, I’ve been trying to think of artifacts that I could use for such purposes in a Beorning context. I keep some simple linen drawstring bags in the bottom of my pack, which are fine for leafy greens or roots, but I do a LOT of berrypicking in the summer, and would like to pick them with something other than a modern plastic pail…and squishy berries in a cloth bag is a fine way to extract berry-juice, but isn’t so good when I want whole berries!

So I needed some kind of rigid container that can hold a gallon or so, and I didn’t have any birchbark pieces that big. Then I thought—ah-ha, what about a basket? That would be perfect. Only one problem—I’d never made a basket before. Not that it matters, I’ve been making wattle hurdles for years, and my rawhide canoe (minus the skin cover) is basically a giant willow basket! So weaving things together is no problem, but I wanted to learn proper basketweaving techniques. To the library! I checked out a book of simple baskets for beginners and studied up.
Then the question became: what would a Beorning’s basket be made from? Modern basket ‘reed’ from suppliers is made from rattan, which is definitely not ancient Europe-appropriate (it comes from Indonesia!), and my willows were all coppiced this winter so their shoots are still too small.
Luckily where I work on the weekends has a big stand of narrow-leaf cattails, which I figured would be perfect for learning on. I gathered and dried a big bundle and then spent a few evenings this week trimming pieces to length, then soaking, weaving, twining, and folding until I wound up with something like this:



Image

Surprise! Stealth headwear writeup!
I present my newest piece of handcrafted kit, a cattail hat for summer wear! This replaces my broad-brimmed ‘panama’ reed hat, which is modern, doesn’t look handmade, and doesn’t ventilate my noggin very well to boot.
As my first foray into basketry, it’s basically a wearable prototype, and I’m probably going to take another stab at it with the leaves I have leftover. But I’m still very pleased with how it turned out. And, like my cattail sleeping mat, I think it’s very justifiable in the cultural sphere, lent credence by Beorn’s furniture with “wide rush bottoms” (TH, Ch 7) and the proximity of the marshes at the confluence of the Gladden and Anduin.
The design is vaguely inspired by a hat I found in my stumblings through the Tolkien-reenacting side of the internet, worn by a fellow (Czech, naturally) in a group ostensibly depicting Beornings.
While the rest of the outfit didn’t read Beorning to me at all, I thought the hat was perfect, being reminiscent of a straw beehive, so I filed it away in my folder of reference pictures (of hats, made of cattails or otherwise).
The final baskethat wound up a bit large and crown-heavy with less of a brim than I had originally hoped, but it works well enough, and the shape vaguely reminds me of several old European headwears, like the hat of the Trindhoj Man.
This fellow’s ‘neolithic tea cozy’ hat was somewhat inspirational as well.
As it is now, the one drawback is that it sits a bit low on my head, which interferes with a horseshoe blanket roll on my shoulder, so I may wind up sewing up a linen liner to raise it up a bit, and provide some sweat absorption.
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
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Greg
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Re: Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Greg » Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:16 pm

That really turned out great. I've done small amounts of basket weaving, and for a first run, that's already top-notch. Plenty to be proud of, and I think it fits the world great.

I agree: Those folks don't feel "Beorning" to me. To each his own.

Side note: Really starting to dig the "Surprise this is actually about..." write-up habits we're starting to get into.
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Elleth
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Re: Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Elleth » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:28 am

.. well that's really cool. :)

Certainly from what I'm given to understand about the tech level, that makes a lot of sense - practicality aside, wicker is a heck of a lot less time/resource intensive to produce than fabric bags.

Hunh. Just occurred to me.

Do you think post-Erebor Beorning dress changed much, with increasing trade making fabrics more available - much like you see in native tribes in the Americas in the 18th-19th centuries?
I mean, we already know the Beornings had woolens (Beorn's tunic) - but I can imagine trade from Dale or Eriador making fabrics available more cheaply than could be produced locally.
I doubt the Beornings would experience it on the same scale as the American natives - Eriador isn't nearly so productive an economy as 18th c. Europe - but still I think perhaps enough to notice.

What do you think?

edit - am I correct in remembering that the Beornings helped secure the road to Dale in exchange for tolls? If so, I could easily imagine bits of "Eastern European" styled kit working its way into a Beorning impression... a traded hatchet or shirt or kettle...
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
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Udwin
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Re: Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Udwin » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:09 pm

Yes! The Beornings are actually thrice depicted (or described) as helping travellers pass through in the area. As Gloin says in Bk2Ch1:

‘if it were not for the Beornings, the passage from Dale to Rivendell would long ago have become impossible. They are valiant men and keep open the High Pass and the Ford of Carrock. But their tolls are high…and like Beorn of old they are not over fond of dwarves. Still, they are trusty, and that is much in these days. "

I'm not sure how much of the Dale-Rivendell corridor they are actually responsible for--if they are responsible for overseeing passage through Mirkwood or not, I don't know or want to make assumptions. But definitely the High Pass over the Misties, across the Anduin, and up to Mirkwood seems clear. (I assume Laketown and/or Thranduil's folks handle things on the eastern side of the forest).

I definitely think that as part of the post-2941 trade increase (owing to the revitalization of Dale/Erebor and the removal of 75% of the Misty orc population and the regional orc cheiftain), goods from East or West would be more likely to be found in a Beorning's kit. It is my Mostly Unfounded Theory that Dale may have had several water-mills (for cloth or paper production, wool fulling, &c.) and could be a source for fabric post 2941. We have practically zero references to material culture, but based on the linguistics, I get the feeling that Laketown/Dale culture might be more heavily NORSE. (versus PJ's interpretation which seemed pretty clearly based on medieval Novgorod)

I guess with my more 'primitive' (locally-produced) interpretation, I could be depicting a Beorning somewhat closer to 2941 than to 3018?
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
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Udwin
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Re: Cattail Basketry: level up!

Postby Udwin » Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:27 pm

Being about 50/50 pleased and unsatisfied with my existing cattail hat^, I've been scheming for months how to make a better one. I realized I would need to make a facsimile hat block out of cardboard or something sturdy on which to weave. My efforts at this were very poor, leading to further lack of motivation. However, at the local thrift store last week, I came across a solid stetson felt hat. Since my current 'adventuring hat' is 11 years old (a crushable canvas Akubra that is really looking its age) and in need of retirement, I snagged it up for 50cents. After a quick soak in warm water to unblock it, I realized it looked pretty much like my ideal cattail hat!
I stuffed it tightly with newspaper, and had the perfect form to weave on!
After getting rained out of work one afternoon this week, I loaded up 3 or 4 hours of podcasts and commenced to weaving...and ha-ha! Cattail hat number 2!

I am much more pleased with this one...sufficiently so that I think it can pass for both Beorning and Bucklander hobbit personas. I wish the crown had come out a little more rounded instead of squarish, but I'm willing to let it slide. Honestly, the only downside I've found is that it is so darn light that it tends to blow off my head in a gust. May wind up adding a braintan thong as a 'stampede strap' to prevent that. Otherwise, mucho improved!
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Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
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Greg
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Re: Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Greg » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:57 pm

Absolutely love it.
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Elleth
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Re: Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Elleth » Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:20 am

Oh that is cool! I like the two-for-the-price-of-one find. :)

Do you think a Beorning would have decorated it? Or kept it plain as a mostly utilitarian / seasonally disposable article?
I'm having visions of your point-work painting or dangly bits pulling it in-universe a bit.

It sure looks comfy for the summer sun!
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
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Manveruon
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Re: Achievement unlocked: Cattail Basketry!*

Postby Manveruon » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:53 am

Would a leather hat band of some kind help keep it more snugly on the head? Or is it too rigid for something like that?

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