Preparing grapevine branches as hoops for rib baskets.
Last fall I took the first steps in preparing grapevine branches to serve as hoops for my rib baskets. Two hoops of grapevine branches, with one inserted inside the other at right angles, serve as the frame for rib baskets. In the photo above, one of my grapevines was cut down last October and the branches saved ready to prepare them as hoops.
Last fall I did not have the energy to complete the preparation, and so some of my vines were left uncut as shown here.
While those I had cut lay all winter long without any attention being spent on them.
However, today, a warm spring day, was the day to begin preparing them for use. One of the fall's branches is here ready for final processing.
Grapevine has a loose outer bark that has to be removed before it can be used as a frame. To remove the bark, I bend the vine until the outer bark springs free of the branch. It is then relatively easy to remove it.
My first hoop made from a grapevine branch with its bark removed.
Three hours after I began, here are about twenty hoops of varying sizes. These will be sufficient for ten rib baskets. All I need now is to wait a few more days or weeks for the willow to flush out with its first leaves of spring, then I can strip it of its bark and reveal the white flesh beneath. I prefer ribs of this white willow for the rib baskets.
(One thing I learned today is that the grapevine branches I cut in the fall had bark that was troublesome to remove. However, the newly cut grapevines had bark that was very easy to strip. Next year, I will do my hoop preparation in the spring!)