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Fern – Durable Weaving Material For Wholesale Picnic Baskets & Homewares

Although it is a wild plant growing abundantly in mountainous areas, fern is a durable and flexible weaving material in itself, not to mention its undeniable economic value. These characteristics make it an opportune medium to weave into wholesale picnic baskets and many ranges of home good wholesale. Read more about the distinctive qualities of Fern!

What Is Fern Weaving Material?

Guot grass, also called “co te” in Vietnamese, is a wild plant (a species of fern) that thrives most in tropical climates, particularly in the Northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam. Several provinces renowned for high-quality ferns can be mentioned such as Yen Bai, Lang Son, Cao Bang, and Bac Can. This tough plant can survive in drought conditions, and withstand wet weather too.

Fern weaving material wholesale picnic baskets
Fern has been increasingly used as a weaving material in Vietnam

Ferns have a naturally bright green luster and smooth finish. Commonly starting between April and June every year, ferns emerge from the ground and reach their full height of 30-60cm, even larger ones can grow to approximately 1.5m. When wither, fern stems possess natural reddish brown and a pleasant fragrance. Durability and flexibility are also a big plus to become an ideal option for Vietnam woven baskets.

Once carefully crafted, ferns retain their outstanding strength and lifespan. Thus, this material is utilized in various home good wholesale, namely storage woven baskets, wholesale picnic baskets, trays, lampshades, tables, cabinets, and beds.

Is Fern Similar to Rattan?

With earthy tones and woven textures, both fern and rattan have been widely used in Vietnam to produce a variety of home good wholesale. There are distinct differences between these two natural weaving materials, which lie most in their appearance, durability, and source areas.

At first sight, fern and rattan are quite similar due to their natural brown hue. However, if you inspect closely, you will spot obvious differences. On the one hand, fern looks softer with a smooth surface where fibers can’t be seen. Split rattan core, on the other hand, is not as soft and may have some cracks on the surface, and you can see fibers and rough texture, depending on species and regions.

Fern weaving material wholesale picnic baskets

Speaking of physical properties, fern are more durable and flexible than rattan core. When outer skin peeled off, rattan core is less durable, and perhaps appears more brittle than fern. Fern material is less commonly used in furniture production like rattan, but primarily for crafting home good wholesale such as Vietnam woven baskets, indoor planters, trays, lights, etc.

In Vietnam, more than 30 species of rattan are widely distributed in the natural forests, particularly in the Northern, Central, Central Highlands, and Southern provinces. On the contrary, fern is most commonly found in the Northern mountainous areas.

Appearancelooks softer and glossier
has a smooth surface
fibers can’t be seen
is not as soft as fern and may have some cracks on the surface
has a rough surface
fibers can be seen
Characteristicshas a very strong, sturdy nature
more durable and flexible than rattan
robust, flexible, and light
less durable and can appear more brittle than fern
Distribution areas (Vietnam)in the Northern mountainous provinces of Vietnamin the natural forests from the North to the South of Vietnam
Useswholesale picnic baskets, indoor planters, trays, lights, etc.chairs, tables, baskets, lampshades, wholesale home accent, etc.

Learn more: What are Vietnam woven baskets made from?

How Is Fern Made Into Wholesale Picnic Baskets?

Harvesting Fern

According to local people, fern stems are normally harvested around September of the lunar calendar. They cut off the top branches and leave the roots so that they will grow back again in the spring. The stems which fulfill the criteria for color, flexibility, and toughness will be sorted out for being sold.

Cutting fern is the toughest task, as the growth area is often very dense, with vertical talus walls in many places. In order to get the long stem, local people must closely examine the plants, find the roots, and cut them close to the ground. Even worse, they may encounter snakes, centipedes, caterpillars, and bees in the bush.

Fern weaving material wholesale picnic baskets
Local people in Lao Cai province (Vietnam) is harvesting fern stems

Processing Ferns

During the processing stage, the most sophisticated part is stripping the outer skin from fern stems. Once the outer skin is smashed, it becomes such sharp pieces that material processors can get hurt when using their hands to peel. Next, they can be used as a whole or split into 3-4 smaller threads for weaving into products depending on customers’ preference.

After getting peeled ferns, it is crucial for material collectors or home decor suppliers to dry them completely. The fern stems are spread out in flat places that get direct sunshine for at least 3 consecutive days. Most importantly, they should be kept away from rainy weather to ensure that the structure is sturdy enough and the fern material does not discolor.

Fern weaving material wholesale picnic baskets
A local woman is peeling the fern stems off by hand

Making Baskets From Ferns

After being processed properly, fern stems are adeptly woven into wholesale picnic baskets and also other home good wholesale. The fern stems can be combined with other natural materials such as rattan, bamboo, seagrass, water hyacinth and corn husk to create different weaving elements and raise product value.

What if you would love to add colors to fern baskets? Local producers can dye several colors for fern stems, as well as put a paint coating outside.

Fern weaving in a traditional handicraft village in Vietnam

Gluing & Finishing For Baskets

In this stage, wholesale picnic baskets and other homewares are often treated with sulfur, and then dipped in glue to increase their durability and color fastness. In other cases, the products can be applied with a coat of varnish. The whole process might be repeated 2-3 more times upon request. Once dried completely, each wholesale picnic basket is liable to a final quality check before delivery.

Fern weaving material wholesale picnic baskets

How Can Ferns Be Used In Making Homewares?

Home good wholesale can be made from fern in different manners. Some uses of ferns in the production of homewares include weaving, stitching, wrapping.

Main Material Of Weaving

Traditionally, weaving has been used to produce home good wholesale (handicrafts), namely natural woven storage baskets, and wholesale picnic baskets. This can entail the combination of fern stems and other natural weaving materials such as seagrass, water hyacinth and rattan to add value to the final product.