Xplor More: Make a Milkweed Bracelet

By | October 1, 2010
From Xplor: Oct/Nov 2010

Not long ago, nature was a grocery store, pharmacy and hardware shop all rolled into one. If a Native American needed a string for his bow, he couldn’t ride to the sporting goods store. He had to make it himself out of cordage. Cordage is rope or twine made from plant fibers. It’s really useful stuff. You can use cordage to make fishing line, rig a snare, lash small trees together for a shelter or make a bracelet like the one shown below.

Learn the basics here, then go to www.xplormo.org/node/9756 for detailed instructions.

Find some milkweed or dogbane.

Milkweed and dogbane grow in many places and make great cordage. Collect them in the fall, when their stems and leaves are dry and brown. Don’t pull up their roots. Instead, snip them off at the stem, so the plants will regrow next spring.

Remove the fibers.

Lay the stems on a hard surface. Step on them so they crack open. Gently peel off the stem’s outer layer, and the fibers you’ll need will separate from inside the stem. Sprinkle water on the fibers to make them easier to work with.

Twist the fibers into cordage.

  1. Hold a small bundle of fibers with your hands spaced two inches apart. Twist the fibers with one hand.
  2. When the fibers get tight, bring your hands together, and a loop will form.
  3. Hold the loop in one hand. Use your other hand to twist the strand of fibers farthest away. When that strand is tight, bring it toward you and over the closer strand. Repeat with the other strand. Continue until the cordage will fit around your wrist.
  4. Tie an overhand knot so the cordage won’t unravel.
  5. Stick the knot through the loop. Now you have a milkweed bracelet!

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This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods