Book Review: Wheat Weaving and Straw Art by Linda D. Bieler

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One day in early December as I was happily sitting at my computer churning out Christmassy tutorials, my sweetie called me over to see something on his computer.

This book! "Wheat Weaving and Straw Art: Tips, Tools and Technique for Learning the Craft".

Good old Amazon had just tipped him off that Wheat Weaving and Straw Art might be a book that would interest him! (He does order all my books for me so no wonder!)

Although I usually like to physically see a book before ordering it, a little voice inside told me to say yes to this opportunity!

And I am so glad I listened again to that little voice because this book, by Linda D. Beiler is a fantastic tool for learning to craft with wheat! Order the book and order some wheat from Black Beards and you are set! You have the tools you need to begin right at home.

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Wheat Spiral image by book photographer Randy Westley

One of my major personal craft goals this year is to learn to make this! I purchased one in the mid-seventies from a magical little Christmas shop and it has been well loved all these years. But I have never found another one in all this time. So - I am going to learn to make a spiral like this one. (You can see my treasured ornament below.)

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Why am I so thrilled with this book? Because the author is a brilliant teacher and because she totally understands how important clear step by step photographs are to effective teaching.

And the publisher - Stackpole Books - is brilliant as well for recognizing the importance of step by step technique photography. (See more about the other books in their Heritage Crafts Today Series below.)

Look at the image above! To simplify learning, Ms. Beiler suggests first making a twist using colored craft straws around a core of PVC pipe! And follows up with step by step images showing the process.

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Then she takes you through the steps using wheat!

Because there are three to six large images filling almost every page in the book, you will easily be able to see and understand the techniques being taught.

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Plaiting (interlocked weaving) can be used for something as simple as my House Blessings or a little more complicated such as making long plaits that can be used to create bows or decorative accents..

As you can see, the author starts you out learning to plait with colored paper strips. Four pages of images showing the process step by step.

Truthfully, until I saw this chapter, I have never had any desire to attempt making plaited wheat - Scandi as it is called. But her brilliant use of  colored papers - I know I can do it!

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There is a huge chapter on straw folding techniques. If had this chapter at my disposal a year ago it would have made my first Bridgid Crosses much easier!

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I loved making the cross, but my uninformed folding technique made things harder than they had to be! This is really a very easy project for using folding skills.

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Flattening and Splitting - two techniques often left out of books teaching wheat weaving. But look at the amazing little wheat straw creations you can make! This gorgeous German Star and straw roses!

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Or these totally cool straw stars!

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Mix and match techniques to create beautiful objects like these. I am so making the project on the right - it is called Vega - after the North Star! It also reminds me of New Mexico's ubiquitous sun symbol.

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There are beautifully illustrated chapters on tools and materials, Wheat Weaving history and preparation of your straw. There are sections for resources and supplies; and even tips for dying straw and for making jewelry!

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When I posted this image of my wheat ornaments in 2008, I had a lot of e-mail requests for either tutorials or resources for buying them. So I know the interest is definitely out there!

At least now I know where readers can get really good instructions - Wheat Weaving and Straw Art: Tips, Tools and Techniques for Learning the Craft.

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I am on my way to my goal guys! My first twist! Certainly not perfect - much more practice needed. But let me tell you - this is FUN!

Wheat Weaving is a very, very old "craft" handed down for generations and originating no doubt through superstition and the belief that man could in some way control nature with small acts of reverence. It is one of many old arts that make up our artistic heritage today.

Sadly, in these days of plenty and technology, we tend not to take time to learn, preserve and pass on these gifts from our human heritage.

But fortunately there are artists and craftsmen who do learn and then share. And Stackpole Books publishes a series called Heritage Crafts Today which brings some of these age old ways to your finger tips.

Here are some of the offerings in this series:

Paper Cutting

Tole Painting

Hex Signs

Pressed Flower Art

Glass Beads

soon to be published - Black Ash Baskets

I hope in the new year ahead, each of you reading will find a "heritage" craft that fires up your interest enough that you will learn it and then pass on what you have learned.

Hi Very interesting post. I

Hi
Very interesting post. I came across your post when searching for information on on the best way to harvest and store wheat stalks with the heads intact to be used for wedding bouquets and decorations in October. The wheat here in Wisc will be harvested in late July. Should one simply store it in a vase? Or spray something on it?
I would appreciate any thoughts you might have? Thank you

What a great find especially

What a great find especially since you have beautiful wheat around you. I love all those ornaments but that weave on the cover is just amazing

I am in love with this book!!

I am in love with this book!! I have to order it for next Christmas, thanks so so much for sharing! And know I know who to ask for help when I'm stuck working on some straw. :)

I had never realised that one

I had never realised that one could make such beautiful things from wheat! Those stars are amazing! Your twist is just gorgeous Pam!! Well done you! x

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