The Knotweed Workshop
In 1593, tulips first appeared in The Netherlands through trade routes with Eastern Europe. It eventually became an emblem of the country. Japanese knotweed made its appearance 250 years later, but its fate was different and it soon suffered from its rapid growth rate and adaptability to new conditions. ‘Knotweed workshop’ is a project based upon the finding that this plant is a precious source of the material.
Virgile Durando explores the possibility of a new tradition of dry knotweed applied in the Dutch home. Making it a hyper-local resource compared to bamboo. With low-tech tools and reinterpreting traditional bamboo techniques, we are invited to contemplate a craft centred on this versatile material.
One of the main goals of the Knotweed workshop is to promote the use of hyper-local resources. By utilising knotweed, which is abundant in the Netherlands, with a strong connection to the local area.
The process of making products from knotweed begins with the collection of the plant from March till May as the stems die off. Virgile and his team gather the knotweed from various locations in the Netherlands, being careful to only collect the plant from areas where the stems have died. Once the knotweed has been collected, it is then dried and prepared by using a splitter similar to the ones used with bamboo.
The marrow from split Knotweed is then removed with the help of a knife or a tool equipped with a blade, then it can be processed using a variety of techniques derived from basketry and bamboo craftsmanship. Virgile uses a combination of traditional bamboo techniques and modern methods to shape and mould the knotweed into the desired shape. This can include techniques such as weaving, bending, and even assembling using other fibres or leather strips.
The final product is then finished with natural oil or wax to protect the knotweed and give it a polished look. The result is a mix of samples with a blend of traditional and modern techniques.
Hyper-local resource: A resource which, growing on all soils, is also abundantly available locally, to which no human labour is added apart from harvesting.
Text submitted by the maker
Japanese Knotweed, Metal
Iris Rijskamp, Virgile Durando