Dogbane is the most fibrous of the materials we used in lab this week, allowing us to more easily translate wool working skills to this material. It produced very thin cord that was more easily added to than the other materials.
Basswood was much more difficult to work with than dogbane. Its thicker fibers are relatively weak and thus required a much thicker cord for any reasonable strength. This product was also much harder on the hands than dogbane but if people worked with it for long enough, calluses would solve that problem.
My group did not work with the cat-tail but David told us it was hard to initially process because it resisted forming the long strips which make cording easier.
Generally, these materials are all less cohesive than wool (no lanolin), so adding more material to the cord is less straight forward than with spinning.
Strength tests were a bit scary to perform as they logical conclusion is seeing how hard you have to pull to break the length of cord. This said, dogbane provides more strength per unit width than the other cords so it would probably perform the best of equally wide lengths of each.
I think that cording can be done without much forethought, as the prep work was relatively quick and the cord we produced from it seems viable. The basswood is traditionally made with longer soaking times so if that is the resource chosen than the forethought has to come in. As you scale up, gathering is of course going to take more time and so will the cording, but you can start that process immediately after deciding to make some rope.
We were surprised to find that weaving a basket of the size we produced only took 40 minutes, which, when intuited to larger scales baskets, might show that useful large baskets could be produced within a day. With the relative simplicity of this process, I imagine that basket weaving could have easily been a job for children, especially if they were more for utility than for looks.
Techniques like beveling the diameter of the basket was intuitive and would allow easy application of basket weaving to a variety of problems requiring different sizes of containers.
I imagine these baskets being useful for harvest and storage or dry goods, as well as conceivably useful as fishing implements. If clay were added to make it water-tight, these baskets could also transport water, perhaps requiring less weight of clay and allowing larger containers, but this should be investigated further.
Basket weaving requires the forethought of gathering reeds or pliable wood that can be woven but the soaking process is fast and you could use green wood so product could be woven right after harvesting.
The process of weaving baskets is quite dissimilar to weaving cloth on a loom so I doubt technology transfer between the two, despite the core similarity of alternating a product over/under.
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