Flax Phormium tenax is a plant from New Zealand that’s fairly frequent in gardens and public areas in Scotland. I learnt concerning the plant from Simon and Carol West, on a current About Argyll Strolling Holidays tour to Orkney in July 2017.
The Maori title for flax is harakeke and is used for making baskets, clothes and cordage. The thread like fibres within the leaves are lengthy, very robust and make glorious cordage.
In conventional Maori tradition the leaves are harvested in a specific means, to make sure the the welfare of the plant. A prayer of thanks – karakia – can be sung, acknowledging the particular worth the plant has.
Te Harakeke, Te Korari
Nga taonga whakarere iho
O te Rangi. O te Whenua. O nga Tupuna.
Homai he oranga mo matou
Tihei mauri ora
It’s a remarkably robust plant and its leaves can solely be harvested with a knife. The subsequent step of the method is to separate the leaves lengthwise after which to scrape them, that is historically normally performed with a mussel shell however I used my thumb nail.
The subsequent step is to weave the flax fibres into cordage, first making two-ply cordage (see the approach within the video under).
I made about 2m of two-ply cordage then repeated the method to make 1m of four-ply cordage. The completed cordage is even and really robust.
My plan is to make use of it in a bow to make Friction Hearth. I’ve tried many pure fibres – like nettle, willow, marram grass – for the wire for a bow and the pressure typically makes it snap. Hopefully this new flax cordage will work effectively.
If you happen to’d prefer to learn to make cordage from pure fibres why not come alongside to our subsequent bushcraft course on the 14th of October 2017.