When life gives you wheat, weave it. A symbol of goodness and prosperity, wheat weaving is an ancient folk art that developed in agrarian societies that grew grains. To celebrate the harvest, honor the earth for a good crop, and decorate the festivities, people would weave grains into geometric shapes, human and animal figures, and even religious symbols. Today, artisans continue to practice this craft and transform simple wheat stalks into intricate decorations.

History of Wheat Weaving

Wheat weaving is as old as growing wheat, or growing other grains, for that matter. Field workers would take grain from a productive section of the field and weave it into an ornate figure. The figure housed the spirit of the crop until it was planted during the next seeding season. Different villages developed their own symbols which were incorporated into "love knots", worn by maidens to proclaim their availability for courtship. "Corn dollies" (Europeans referred to all grains as "corn") were fashioned to represent the gods of harvest.

Today craftspeople make wheat weavings as decoration for gifts and to sell. In the United States , you most likely will see these items in the Great Plains states, settled mostly by European farming immigrants, where wheat is abundant and part of the culture. Many organizations, such as the National Association of Wheat Weavers and The Guild of Straw Craftsmen, share ideas and promote their art on the world wide web.

How to Weave Wheat

The best way to learn how to weave wheat is to find a teacher in your area, if possible. Materials can be purchased online. The second best way to learn is through an instructional book, such as "The Book Of Wheat Weaving And Straw Craft" Either way, there are some basic guidelines to follow:

1. Select long, slender, golden, straight wheat stalks that are at least 18 inches from the base to the first joint on the stalk. Be sure to avoid any green coloration.

2. Soak stalks in lukewarm water for 2-3 hours right before you intend to use them. Remove stalks from water and wrap in a damp bath towel. Let stalks set for 20 minutes.

3. Stalks are now ready for weaving. Secure the stalks with a tight thread. Start with basic braids at an angle to get a feel for the texture and nature of working with wheat.

After you have finished your project, allow it to dry completely. Your project will last for decades. To clean, dust gently with a dry paintbrush or immerse in cool water to loosen dirt, then brush with paintbrush and completely airdry. If the weaving is damp for too long, the seeds will sprout!

Beautiful examples of wheat weavings can be viewed and sometimes purchased from the following links:

http://www.wheatweaving.com/projects.html

http://www.deepwaterbay.com/photo7.htm

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/4565/janet/janet.htm

http://wheatweaver.bizland.com/itmidx1.htm