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Natural Materials

Pine Needles
southern yellow longleaf pineAll pine needles are not created equal! Needles from the long-leaf pine tree are almost always used in basket making. Owing its namesake to having the longest needles of all southern pines, longleaf pine needles usually range from 7 to 18 inches in length (though longer needles have been found). The needles are grouped in threes and arranged in tufts on the end of branches. When viewed from below, these tufts look similar to a starburst. Needles persist for approximately 2 growing seasons before being rotated out by a group of younger needles. High in natural volatile chemicals, longleaf pine needles are slow to decay once they fall to the forest floor. However, frequent fires throughout the woods easily ignite the dead needles and clean the forest floor of pine needles and other debris. Needles were frequently used by Native Americans and early settlers to weave into baskets. Today, because of their pleasing color and length, many longleaf pine needles are gathered and used as garden mulch (called "pine straw").
St. Joseph Island Puddingstone
St. Joseph Island Pudding StonePudding stone, is a conglomerate rock made up of a mixture of different, irregular sized grains and pebbles held together by a finer matrix, usually formed from quartz sand. The sedimentary rock is formed in river channels and may contain various minerals such as chromite, corundum, platinum, diamonds, gold, sapphire, and zircon. Its name is said to derive from a resemblance to Christmas pudding. St. Joseph Island puddingstone, found in the St. Mary's River area of Northern Ontario contains red and brown pieces of jasper, a kind of quartz. .
Petoskey stone
Petoskey StoneA Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped, that is composed of a fossilized coral, Hexagonaria percarinata.[1] The stones were formed as a result of glaciation, in which sheets of ice plucked stones from the bedrock, grinding off their rough edges and depositing them in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the northwestern portion of Michigan's lower peninsula. In some areas of Michigan, complete fossilized coral colony heads can be found. Petoskey stones are found in the Gravel Point Formation of the Traverse Group. They are fragments of a coral reef that was originally deposited during the Devonian period, about 350 million years ago.[1] When dry, the stone resembles ordinary limestone but when wet or polished using lapidary techniques, the distinctive mottled pattern of the six-sided coral fossils emerges. It is sometimes made into decorative objects. Other forms of fossilized coral are also found in the same location. In 1965, it was named the state stone of Michigan. .
Lake Superior agate
Lake Superior agateThe Lake Superior agate is noted for its rich red, orange, and yellow coloring. This color scheme is caused by the oxidation of iron. The gemstone comes in various sizes. Very large agates are extremely rare. The most common type of Lake Superior agate is the fortification agate with its eye-catching banding patterns. Each band, when traced around an exposed pattern or "face," connects with itself like the walls of a fort, hence the name fortification agate. Occasionally, collectors find a gemstone with an almost perfectly smooth natural surface. These rare agates are believed to have spent a long time tumbling back and forth in the waves along some long-vanished, wave-battered rocky beach. They are called, appropriately enough, "water-washed" agates..
Cedar Burls
Northern White CedarNorthern white-cedar, the lightest of any commercial wood in the United States, grows primarily in the Lake States and Maine. It grows in both pure and mixed stands, mostly in swamps but also on uplands. Michigan's Upper peninsula has many stands of this beautiful and useful tree. The heartwood is resistant to decay and subterranean termites, is easy to work, glues well, holds paint well, and has little dimensional change. Occasionally the cedar trees will produce a growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. THese are called burls. These burls can contain beautiful swirls of wood grain and are a perfect and logical material to incorporate into Pine Needle Baskets.
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