How does the wicker grow?
“How beautiful!” exclaimed the girl as she opened the parcel brought by the carrier. A moment earlier the door had closed behind the man and the huge package was waiting to be unpacked. She did not have to wait long, because scissors were already prepared in her little hands, and she was fidgeting around, wanting to start opening... The package was sent the day before in the small village of Łętownia in Podkarpacie region, where wicker marvels come out of the talented hands of wicker weavers every day. However, it requires a long process to get the flexible, bark-free wicker osiers into the hands of the braiders. Wicker cultivation is not the simplest one. Plantations are created twice a year, either in autumn, when the colourful leaves appear on the trees, signifying that it is time to plant before the first frosts, or in spring, when the frosts are gone and the sun is shining more and more, heralding longer days. The first year is a period of very intensive care, with particular attention paid to the soil, which must be weed-free and properly aerated. Wicker is not very demanding, it likes the sun, but it will not survive either frost or hail, so needs proper protection. When a wicker seedling is put into the ground, it takes root to form a new plant and needs time to grow in peace before it can be harvested. Harvesting, however, is the next stage. The wicker harvest begins when the leaves have completely fallen and the osiers have become woody. The wicker is cut with machine mowers, replacing the manual work of harvesters who used to cut the wicker with special knives. The next step, which is sorting, is manual work that cannot be replaced by any machine. Each wicker strand must be checked through the hands of a man who assesses its quality and sorts it according to size, weighing and binding it into 5 or 10 kg sheaves. Then the wicker is boiled in large boilers, which takes up to 6 hours, and when it has cooled down it is barked with a special machine, which has replaced the manual barking that was common at this stage not so long ago, using primitive tools. After barking, the wicker is dried on large wooden frames, which takes up to three days. The dried wicker is then tied into sheaves and this is the end of the wicker growing process. The last step is weaving and it is at this stage that all these wonderful products are created, which bring a smile to our children's faces and give us the feeling of communing with nature, in such a beautiful and artisanal form.