Gypsea Weaver upcycles crab line into art | Community

A Siletz woman has taken her love of weaving in a new direction with a common product along the Oregon Coast…crab pot lines.

Rebecca Hooper makes doormats, baskets and woven tapestries with the salvaged line. She has been a weaver for about 15 years in cotton and wool and says her interest in weaving has evolved.

“Like any hobby, you keep learning and moving on to new things,” Hooper said. “I started thinking about all the things I love about beach communities and new ways to create art. »

While researching ideas for weaving with beach trash, she came across lobster rope mats. In 2009, the federal government banned the use of float line with lobster fishing due to negative impact with the North Whale. Lobster Rope Mats were designed in 2009 on the East Coast in response to banning and miles of floating rope that could no longer be used. A couple of folks in Maine created the design based on a nautical knot rug called the Sword Rug, but they modified it with a dowel loom. The production of these mats saved miles and miles of landfill waterline and provided income for fishing families during the off season.

Hooper quickly learned that the port of Newport had a commercial wharf with large bins where fishermen dumped their old crab pot lines that they could no longer use. And there were many.

“They would like rope to last forever, but it doesn’t. Everything has a shelf life,” Hooper said. “I can redirect it from the landfill and create a really cool product that could be bought that represents our local blue economy. I can turn it into something positive with a piece of history.”

She also works directly with a couple of Newport commercial fishing boats, such as the F/V Last Straw or F/V Tana C, and says she would happily work with any others who scattered old line.

Once she takes the used rope home, Hooper washes and then dries it. Each doormat takes about 250 feet of cord and weighs about nine pounds – heavy enough not to blow away on the windy coast. His baskets take nearly 100 feet of rope and weigh about six pounds each. The weight of the rope makes this type of weaving difficult. “It’s definitely a physical effort to make them,” she said.

She has recently begun to explore painterly tapestry weaving in a French Gobelin style and uses these techniques with rope fibers, which has inherent difficulties. “It’s hard to get good details. Rope cannot be dyed, and it is difficult to work with the same five colors.”

Hooper unravels the rope to get thin strands and can weave colors together to make other colors, but he doesn’t mix very well. “It’s not like a painting. It’s like pixelating where you just start at the bottom, make a point, and build the image up. There’s no go-back.”

In search of zero waste, Hooper sticks the small tips on plastic pots as decorative planters. “There are always bits and pieces of paper left over,” she said. “Nursery pots are not recyclable, so rather than throwing them away, I can use almost all the rope and the waste is kept to a minimum.”

He was asked to teach his weaving technique to teenagers and area plans to start entering his rope work in art exhibitions. Her designs will compete with weavers who use fine, beautiful woolens, but Hooper said she’s up to the challenge. “I’ll push and see where it goes. I’m having a good time. Nobody in the world uses the rope to weave tapestries.”

Gypsea Weavers products can be purchased at Pirate’s Plunder in the Aquarium Village in South Beach, and at a new home store, Roots Ginger Home, which opens March 17 in the city’s Lincoln Outlet Mall. She also has a website – gypseaweaver.com – where people can request special orders such as memory rugs or rugs in certain colors.

Hooper says each product is a unique piece of local fishing history, supports Newport’s commercial fishing fleets with an alternative to landfill, and represents pride in our fishing culture. “I love the positivity of this one – it’s not porn pollution. This is to support our local economy, our fishing community and to work with them and grab things from the trash before they go to the landfill,” she said.

Dora W. Clawson