Bull Kelp Experiment 1


It is High Spring on the Sonoma Coast and I’m finding my interest in woven structures is shared by birds, whose nests are literally dropping from trees with the afternoon winds from an unseasonably high barometric pressure.


My initial experiments with bull kelp were a success. Wrapped around a tapered round of driftwood, the material dried to a flexible hardness, keeping its shape but reducing in diameter by about 75%. The taper allows for easy removal of the shrunken, dried kelp form.

My concern now is how best to preserve the dried kelp form from its naturally intended decay. I have been experimenting with biodiesel as a non-toxic wood finish and have soaked my dried kelp form with the fuel as a potentially ideal solution. Biodiesel is produced locally here, and is available at several nearby pump stations for a fraction of the cost of comparable oils and varnishes.


Meanwhile, I’ve been documenting woven structures and studying the cultures that consistently produce functional objects from ‘knitted’ or ‘woven’ grasses.


I’m not entirely confident kelp will find its way into the California Windsor I am developing, but it will certainly inform its design and may surface as a small basket for eggs or similarly harvested goods. Kelp is like wine to the compost.

2 replies on “Bull Kelp Experiment 1”

  1. Hi ,
    Just wondering if the biodiesal workd to preseve the kelp. I have a problem with my baskets adsorbing h20 and slumping over the years!

    Thanks for any input…

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