When I love to go in the forest when they are slash burning. When they do that with the longleaf pine trees I go and visit my Forest Ranger friend and his name is Forest Murphy honest! A Nancy Basket and a Forest Murphy go into the forest and we pick the long pine needles. So we can pick them up, we can pick them when they’re all brown because they’ve been heated up and it’s just as though they microwaved the forest just for me so that is when I really like to find them. Seasonality.
Doesn’t matter necessarily. They come off the tree they fall in the spring and fall both but if you’re lucky enough you can gather the long leaf from the very small trees. They’re very long at that time then you can let them dry out at home and they’re going to lose the longer pine needles anyway so by taking them you’re not hurting the tree at all. They’re the longest at that time. It’s almost like grass, it’s beautiful. Longleaf are the best. That’s what the basket makers look for. When I first came down here to South.
Carolina I came together my own longleaf because I was tired of paying fourteen dollars a pound for them. Now they’re 28 dollars a pound and that’s when they’re bundled and sorted so they’re not chewed up or broken like you would get in a bale of pine straw. Some people who make baskets think they can pay six dollars instead twenty eight dollars a pound for who knows how many pounds but they’re broken and you can’t use them. The longer they are the less you have to feed them.
Collecting Pine Needles for Basket Weaving
And then the faster your basket builds. Usually they’re on the side of the road and they’re being given away as garbage or I will turn myself into the rangers and bring a basket or two because not all of them have seen the beauty of a pine basket. To collect them yes, you have to have permission or get them on the side of the road or go to the Ranger. Native American people have the right to collect the pine needles for our baskets because it’s something that we did traditionally.
I like to stick with my own state needles. I take pride in my state. Sometimes if I get them in a real sandy location I’ll have to wash them but I usually don’t. It’s a wood and there’s nothing really that sticks to them. Some people are real particular about it. I like some of the forest to come home with me. It’s just a different feel. All you have to have is loppers and just cut the limbs off and throw them into a bag something but you can’t keep green needles in a bag very long.