Ñocha handcraft in 5 steps

When we buy a craftsmanship we do not know the production process behind it. Generally, in craftsmanship, the preparation of the raw materials is quite complex and takes a lot of time. We wanted to illustrate the process, step by step of this basketry to be aware of the work it requires. By stating what it means to make a “simple” breadbasket, we can appreciate much more the work involved and therefore the price it has or should have.

Step 1

The Ñocha is a natural fibre that grows in the native forest. Currently, the raw material is grown in shade-houses installed by Forestal Mininco in the residences of the artisans. In this picture we see the artisan Mercedes Astorga in her greenhouse harvesting the Ñocha. For the leaves to be in optimal condition for weaving they must be harvested with a waning moon.

Step 2

Mercedes prepares a lye which is a mixture of water and ashes that must be boiled before the freshly harvested leaves are submerged. The lye softens and lightens the leaves.

Step 3

Here we see a bundle of leaves knotted and hung up to be dried in the sun. In 2 or 3 sunny days the fiber will be ready to begin the weaving process.

Step 4

Before starting the weaving process, the artisans must sort the ñocha leaves into bundles and prepare the fibre filling, which can be white or amorphous straw (harvested from straws near the sea). The weaving technique for this basketwork is the aduja or spiral, which is made into a circle in the shape of a button and then the white straw is sewn and covered with the strip of ñocha.

Paso 5

On a mullet (trunk) the Aduja is crushed with a hammer to make it flat and achieve perfection.

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