Water hyacinth is a weed that once clogged all the waterways around Vietnam. But despite its history, it is now considered an eco-friendly choice for weaving home decor baskets and other home decor products.
Water hyacinth used to be a nuisance on the waterways around Vietnam as the water hyacinth plant grows on the water and is extremely fast-growing. Today the plant is cut and dried and then handwoven into beautiful baskets and other home decor products. The water hyacinth material can be left in its natural color, dyed or painted in a variety of shapes and forms.
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What is Water Hyacinth?
Water hyacinth is an aquatic plant that has a slender rootstock kind of stalked leaves. These leaves are then cut and dried so that they can be woven in baskets and other home decor and home furniture products. Water hyacinth is widely found in Vietnam, especially in the waterways south of Hanoi.
Water hyacinth grows on the water and floats where the water runs. The plant also has flowers on it that will grow throughout the northern Vietnamese four seasons. Even in the rainy season when the water rises in the waterways, the plant will remain green and small violets can be seen as flowering on the water hyacinth.
Water hyacinth is an extremely fast-growing plant, especially during the springtime. For the plant to grow it needs to have water. But it is also considered one of the most evasive plants in the world for the waterways.
Water Hyacinth – A Menace on the Waterways.
For a long time, water hyacinth was considered to be a useless plant that was harmful to the waterways and the environment of Vietnam and other parts of the world. In about 2000 the locals in the Mekong Delta area where a lot of the water hyacinth grows started to dry and weave the water hyacinth plants into home decor and other objects.
In fact, in many parts of Vietnam, these plants on the waterways, are considered a nuisance as the growth is so thick that the boats cannot go down the riverways. The water hyacinth will float on the rivers and sometimes it is so thick that the water beneath it cannot be seen. This not only affects the boats being able to travel down the waterways but also harms the plant and wildlife in the rivers. So in a way, the cutting of the water hyacinth helps ease an environmental burden on these waterways as the cutting of the water hyacinth plant helps to clear these waterways for the boats and other river-life.
Drying Water Hyacinth
Despite the fact that water hyacinth is an extremely invasive plant that can choke the waterways, it is also quite a complicated plant to dry correctly. The plant must be dried carefully so that the water hyacinth remains pliable when weaving and will not crack when woven. This means it has to be dried in the correct manner and correct temperature.
The complications of the drying process are one of the reasons it took a while for this plant to be discovered as a viable source of material for the handwoven production of home decor and home furnishing products.
Water Hyacinth Material and Weaving Attributes
There are many ways to use water hyacinth for home decor production. All of the water hyacinth production is 100% handwoven. It cannot be woven by machine.
Here are some water hyacinth material and weaving attributes:
- Handwoven into baskets – Water hyacinth can be woven into a basket without or without a frame. The baskets without the frame can be soft or have a stiffener placed on them so the baskets will keep their shape.
- Variety of weave types – Even though water hyacinth is a very short material, it is able to be woven in a variety of weaves and in a variety of ways. This helps ensure it is a very versatile material.
- Placed on a metal frame – Water hyacinth can also be woven on a metal frame. When woven this way it usually does not need a stiffener placed on it, but all water hyacinth needs to have a chemical treatment after weaving it so that the baskets will stay true to the natural color and not mold or have an insect infestation.
- Dyed in a variety of colorways – One of the great attributes of water hyacinth is that water hyacinth can be dyed in a variety of colors especially some greens, blacks and brown colorways.
- Painted colors – Water hyacinth can also be painted.
Water Hyacinth Weaving Home Decor Uses
One of the great things about water hyacinth is that it is a very versatile product. When woven colors can be mixed and they can also be mixed with other materials like seagrass.
Here are some home decor products that water hyacinth can be used for:
- Baskets – No doubt one of the best-known ways for the use of water hyacinth is in the form of baskets. Baskets can be done in a variety of sizes and as the material is quite thick it is usually used for some very large size baskets. With the baskets, the weave can be with or without a metal frame.
- Trays – Like baskets, water hyacinth is also used for trays. Many trays will have a metal frame so that the trays can keep their shape.
- Lamp bases – Water hyacinth can also be used for lamp bases. The lamp bases need to also have a metal frame for the water hyacinth to keep the shape of the lamp base.
- Lampshades and lighting – Water hyacinth is being used for a lot of lampshades and lighting products. Like the other products, this usually needs to also be woven around a metal frame.
- MIrror frames and wall art – With a metal frame, water hyacinth can also be used to produce a mirror and also wall art.
- Furniture – Water hyacinth is used to weave furniture. Like the other products to make any furniture pieces out of water hyacinth, it needs to have a metal or some other kind of frame.
Water hyacinth is a wonderful material that can be used in a variety of ways and in a variety of finishes. When finished it gives an array of natural looks and has a very soft feel for the overall basket. This is quite an amazing transformation from a plant that was once considered a huge nuance to the waterways around Vietnam to now being woven into amazing home decor and home furniture products.
Does Water Hyacinth Clean the Waterways?
The roots of the water hyacinth plant can absorb the impurities in the water while also helping to lock up the floating particles in the water. Because of this, over time, it helps to also purify the water. The roots of the water hyacinth plant are also eaten by some fish. But the fast-growing nature of the plant itself is also considered a nuance as it can choke the waterways.
Why is Water Hyacinth Dangerous?
Water hyacinth can be extremely dangerous on the waterways. The reason it is so invasive in that it grows extremely fast and while it grows it forms thick layers over the waterways and can shade out other aquatic plants that help some of the river life grow. It can also affect the oxygen levels of the waterways, so many species of fish are not able to survive.