Primitive Technology: Woven Bark Fiber
Woven Bark Fibre
I made a rough type of textile from bark fibre. This is the same tree I use for making cordage though I don’t know its name. It has been raining a lot here lately (the video also shows how well the hut stands up to rain) and this caused a large wattle tree to fall down taking a few smaller trees with it. One of the trees was the type I use for fibre. So I stripped the bark from it and divided it into thinner strips back at the hut.
I spun the fibre strips into a rough yarn using a drop spindle. The drop spindle was basically the spindle and fly wheel I used in the pump drill video I made a while ago. A small stick was tied to the top of the drop spindle to act as a hook to make sure the fibres spun. I tied bark strips to the spindle and spun the spindle so it twisted the strip. When one strip ran out a new strip was added and twisted into the thread.
I then made a loom by hammering stakes into the ground and lashing cross bars to it. Stakes were hammered into the ground to hold every first string while a moveable cross bar held every second string. When the bar was lifted a gap was formed where every second string was above every first string. Then when the bar was dropped a gap was formed where the opposite was true. So in this way the weaving thread could be drawn through over and under one way and then under over back the opposite way. The alternative was to weave by hand which would have taken longer.
Collecting, stripping and drying the fibre took a few days to do. Spinning and weaving took just over a day per 70 cm square. The result was a rough material about as stiff as a welcome mat. So at this stage I’m using them as mats. In future I will investigate finer fibres, such as those from banana stalks, as a possible material for cloth. They take more processing but produce a finer product. I may also make a permanent, portable loom that can be taken indoors when it rains.
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