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Seagrass For Weaving: From Natural Fibers To Wholesale Seagrass Baskets

Seagrass is a top pliable fiber for producing Vietnam woven baskets and homewares for foreign markets. Not rigid as rattan and bamboo, seagrass material has a level of softness, smoothness and durability that contributes to high-quality products. Explore more about this natural versatile fiber!

Overview about Seagrass Material

What is Seagrass for weaving?

Firstly, do not confuse seagrass with seaweed: Seaweed is an edible seaweed vegetable, while seagrass is a material for producing baskets and other home decor wholesale.

Seagrass (sedge), is a herbaceous plant, which grows naturally in coastal areas. The stem (trunk) of seagrass can grow to 2m in height, and has a triangular shape with a diameter of 5-7mm. It includes a green skin, and small white soft fibers inside. This spongy structure creates a certain elasticity and hygroscopic ability for seagrass material. 

seagrass for weaving wholesale seagrass baskets
People in Ninh Binh province are harvesting seagrass (Photo credit: Baoninhbinh)

Where does Seagrass Material grow?

Seagrass material is mainly found in brackish, salty water of Southeast Asia and South Asia. In each area, there are different species of seagrass; thus, it can be understood that seagrass in Vietnam and that in Bangladesh are not the same, especially as regards to appearance.

Thanks to the favorable climate conditions in Vietnam, seagrass has been cultivated widely along coastal provinces. Even for the same species, seagrass differs from province to province. Thanh Hoa is the largest supply of seagrass for weaving with its total annual production of 40,000 tons. This province is considered to provide the highest quality seagrass.

Seagrass for Weaving: Properties

Is seagrass a sustainable material? 

Seagrass is a sustainable material, which has been harvested for its pliable stem to make sleeping mats, seagrass woven baskets and other homewares. What makes seagrass stems a popular option?

Once split and well-dried, seagrass is highly durable, soft and lightweight in nature. This fiber embodies a supple, firm texture, yet still so smooth and flexible for weaving by hand. On the outside, seagrass fibers possess a natural greenish beige which turns brown over time. 

seagrass for weaving wholesale seagrass baskets

A closer look to seagrass texture in woven home goods wholesale

Pros – Sustainability: Seagrass is biodegradable, non-toxic, and requires no harmful chemicals during production.
– Durability: Seagrass products have a long lifespan (5+ years of use with proper care). 
– Sweat absorption: When in contact with human skin, seagrass can absorb a layer of natural oil, then become more shiny and not moldy.
Cons – Hydrophobic nature: Molds can appear if seagrass is exposed to high humidity.
– Careful preservation: Seagrass requires proper care to avoid molds and stains.

What can be made from seagrass?

With a durable, flexible nature, seagrass for weaving can be transformed into a variety of home goods wholesale. Top products crafted from seagrass is seagrass woven baskets, wicker pots for plants, home decor and accessories wholesale, woven seagrass lamp shade.

seagrass for weaving wholesale seagrass basketsSeveral product categories made from seagrass material

Seagrass Production: How To Make Seagrass Baskets?

Seagrass harvesting

Seagrass is grown by local farm households on their marginal land which is not suitable for rice cultivation. When harvesting, farmers will sort seagrasses by length, and remove all the dead and too short ones. 

The fresh seagrass stems will then be pre-processed immediately on the field. It involves using a simple machine and splitting stems into smaller-size strands. If not split in time, seagrass will wilt – which means it is so difficult for splitting. 

Seagrass harvesting season in Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam

Afterwards, seagrass strands are sun-dried in 2-3 days until their moisture content is <30%. Sun exposure significantly enhances the quality of seagrass, specially: Seagrass becomes lighter, softer, and more durable. It obtains a greenish beige color which mellows to light brown with age.

Seagrass processing

Dried seagrass strands are then sold to collectors. They often act as processors who do semi-processing: making ropes and dyeing. Please note that seagrass cannot be bleached to get a lighter tone.

To form a seagrass rope (cord), collectors can braid or twist multiple split strands together. These ropes are all long and tough, produced in different thickness (e.g: 2.8-3.0 mm, 3.6-3.8 mm, or 5.0-6.0 mm diameter). Another type is made by wrapping plastic threads around multiple seagrass strands to shape into a rope.

Collectors then sell seagrass strands and ropes to producing companies (also known as wholesale home decor suppliers). In Vietnam, the suppliers are mainly located in the suburbs of Hanoi, as well as in the provinces of Ninh Binh, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Vinh Long and Hau Giang.

Seagrass product weaving

Producing companies make wholesale seagrass baskets in bulk on order for global buyers. They work with local weavers who can either be present at the factory, or craft products at home with materials provided.

Seagrass products are hand-woven by these skilled weavers (called artisans). A large number of them also work on their rice farm on a seasonal basis. Therefore, labor shortage might occur when it comes to the harvest season of farmers. 

seagrass for weaving wholesale seagrass basketsLocal weavers in Ninh Binh are making seagrass woven baskets

Depending on specific functions, seagrass can be woven in many styles and combined with other materials. The more complex products, the longer the total production time is. It is because suppliers need to source other materials or accessories.

Seagrass product finishing

After the weaving stage, producing companies will collect seagrass products from local weavers, then check whether they meet specifications, have good weaving and right patterns. The qualified ones will move towards Finishing. Finishing is mandatory in the handicraft production process, which includes:

  • Trimming: Producers cut excess seagrass strands off seagrass woven baskets. 
  • Cleaning: If there are requirements of color, paint will be applied on seagrass products; however, painting peeling off on seagrass might occur over time.
  • Gluing: For wholesale seagrass baskets, soaking in glue makes them well-shaped and mold-free. This step is especially for specific weaving styles such as split seagrass, twisted seagrass, and coiled seagrass. 
  • Shaping: Without metal frames, some certain seagrass baskets are prone to deformation, so it is necessary to reshape its original form by filling baskets with stuff inside.

Seagrass product inspection

Another pivotal step is final inspection for all products before transportation. This can be implemented by the in-house QC (Quality Control) of wholesale home decor suppliers, or by the third parties

High-quality wholesale seagrass baskets must meet the requirements of moisture content which should range from 12% to 23%. They also need to avoid common defects such as stain marks, uncut weaving, peeled paint, deformed, broken weaving and poor weaving.

seagrass for weaving wholesale seagrass basketsOur QC Leader is checking the weaving of wholesale seagrass baskets

Seagrass for Weaving: Uses and Cares

Is seagrass eco-friendly?

Seagrass itself is a natural, fast-growing fiber and doesn’t include harmful chemicals in the production process. In addition, seagrass is processed to be well-dried and sturdy for long uses. Thus, seagrass is eco-friendly and also safe for users.

Can seagrass get wet?

Although seagrass has an excellent sweat-absorbing ability, it doesn’t mean that seagrass can withstand moisture. Seagrass is not waterproof, so wet places surely affects durability and appearance of seagrass in the long run.

If seagrass gets wet and is dried immediately, this fiber can turn friable, easy to burst and break. In addition, the color of seagrass becomes darker and less attractive with black stains appearing due to molds. As a result, wet seagrass products will no longer be functional for storage or decoration. 

If wholesale seagrass baskets get wet, you should air-dry them until seagrass is completely dry and then continue to store or use it normally.

seagrass for weaving wholesale seagrass basketsAdequate sun exposure plays a role in enhancing the quality.

Can seagrass go outside?

We recommend that seagrass should be just used indoors. Seagrass products are still suitable for outdoor decoration in front porches, patios, and sheltered gardens. 

When it comes to preservation, wholesale seagrass baskets should be kept out of rain, high humidity and intense heat of the sun. Avoid leaving seagrass woven baskets on the floor, near the wall, under the air conditioner, near the refrigerator, etc. for a long time. 

It is advisable to place products in a dry, ventilated place like on a high shelf. If you’d like to store them in an airtight cabinet or box, remember to include a few desiccant packs.

Is seagrass the same as water hyacinth?

No, they are two different materials. Though they are both natural plants which have been mainly used for producing wholesale storage baskets,