“English Ivy is an invasive, introduced plant species which damages our forests by reducing biodiversity and negatively impacting native wildlife.  It is fabulous to see this [plant] removed from our natural areas and transformed into a productive, creative item!”

Rachel Felice, Westside Stewardship Coordinator, Portland Parks and Recreation

“In my eleven years of teaching basketry to ninth grade students I was always searching for a way to use living materials that were familiar to them.  Peter is a pioneer in the use of English ivy as a basketry material.  The students performed community service while doing ivy removal from Forest Park, thus harvesting the very material they would use to create their baskets in class. Peter brought a rich experience to my students. He is a colorful personality and wonderful guest teacher.”

Katherine Pomeroy, Handcrafts Teacher at the Portland Waldorf School

We Weave with Invasive Species

English ivy basketmaking is one of Rewild Portland’s signature programs. At our workshops you will learn to weave a simple basket out of Hedera helix, otherwise known as English ivy. We sometimes weave with other invasive species as well, including Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry, English holly, yellow flag iris, and others. You will help restore and maintain the native habitat of city parks and adjacent private lands by removing ivy and other invasive species, and then recycle the cast-off plant matter into a functional work of art.

Many people consider English ivy the bane of ecological preservation and restoration. Brought to North America long ago by the invasive culture of the English, this prolific plant has lived in the Willamette Valley and various places around North America ever since. By now English ivy has naturalized so deeply in the landscape that most people realize the battle to completely remove it is impossible. All we can do is manage it through continuous removal done by volunteer efforts.

Having multiple reasons to pull ivy (to restore ecology, to learn crafts, to come together and connect with other people) helps us get out to the places where it grows, remove and maintain it, and form a relationship with it in the process. We learn that there is no need to put hate into a plant, especially when we realize the gifts it has to offer. For more on invasive species, we recommend Tao Orion’s Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration.

Basketmaking as a Holistic Craft

There is a distinction made between basketweaving and basketmaking. Basketweaving is the knowledge and craft of how to twist materials together into a container. This knowledge doesn’t necessarily include the knowledge of harvesting and preparing the materials prior to weaving. Basketmaking is the holistic process, beginning with a plant in the wilds and finishing with a basket at home. This requires knowledge of specific plant species’ growth and an ecological awareness of how to harvest. It also includes knowledge of prepping and processing materials. While basketweavers assemble material that has been provided them, basketmakers go into the wild, harvest material, process it, and then weave it. Our classes emphasize basketmaking, as we want to experience where materials come from as a way of connecting to place. In contemporary times, most basket materials are imported and weavers have not been part of the growing process. In the first part of our classes we will learn how to gather plants, how to prevent them from growing back, and how to process materials to make them ready for weaving baskets. The second part of class focuses on weaving.

We Teach Basketmaking as a Mindfulness Practice

To us, weaving is more than just our hands constructing a useful container. It is a practice of mindfulness. Through basketmaking we learn patience, breathing, mind-body awareness, gratitude, and how to have a quiet, thoughtful mind. Basketmaking requires us to slow down and be purposeful and methodical in our movements. Through hand-body coordination in the outdoors, with a natural material, we connect more deeply to plants and place.

Current Offerings

Ivy Cornucopia Basket

Also known as a “The Horn of Plenty” this basket has a rich history as a decorative table piece for harvest and holiday feasts. This basket is a challenging but fun, sculptural weave. Similar to the ivy gathering basket, you’ll learn the “packing weave” (or Tapestry Weave) and walk away with a table piece for the coming holidays.
Date: Saturday & Sunday, November 4 & 5 || 9am-5pm Postponed
Location: Portland, OR
Tuition: $225 (Scholarships Available)

Ivy & Scotch Broom Coil Basket

This basket is fun and relatively easy to make. Coiling can feel more like sewing than weaving, as pieces are wrapped together in a completely different fashion from twining or regular weaving. It also requires a lot less material to be gathered. Depending on availability and access, we will gather and use Scotch broom as the “foundation” and peeled, split English ivy roots at the “stitch” material. This combination of materials presents a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing contrast of color, with dark greens emanating from the coil, wrapped in light-colored bands.
Date: Saturday & Sunday, December 2 & 3 || 9am-5pm
Location: Portland, OR
Tuition: $225 (Scholarships Available)

English Ivy Gathering Basket

This basket is great for foraging either wild foods in the forest or down at the local farmer’s market. A beginner’s basket, this one is easy to learn and weave. Also, cats love them.
Date: Saturday & Sunday, December 9 & 10 || 9 am-5 pm
Location: Portland OR
Tuition: $225 (Scholarships Available)

Private Groups & Custom Classes

If you would like to request us to come teach English Ivy Baskets at your school or with your club, send us a message:

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