Teaching nettle string making in the Brecon Beacons
Manifest were invited by the Fathom Trust to join them as crafters on a day course for adult carers, providing much-needed respite and a day of making beautiful things in the dramatic landscape of Bannau Brycheiniog.
Nettle fibres have been used to make cordage, string, rope and other textiles since prehistoric times. In this workshop, we used nettles gathered from nooks and corners of the farm (they love to grow on rich and fertile soil, often indicating where animals have been kept). Very simple technologies of rolling pins and (gloved) hands are used to extract the fibres, which are then twisted into twine, providing surprising strength and beauty.
A particularly mesmeric and therapeutic activity, we enjoyed discussing how natural fibres can be used – including in buildings, from tying thatch to rafters, to whole bridges made of grass, where braided twine can make whole structures – or even simply as shoe-laces! Nettles are a much under-used resource, and we look forward to more projects involving natural cordage.