I was tempted to call this one “Hey, Jute” but I refrained. Aren’t you glad? Anyhow, we got a few neat coffee and potato sacks in the shop made of burlap and I thought I would investigate.
Burlap (also called hessian cloth) is made from jute fiber, a fast-growing plant that is part herbaceous and part woody. It can be made into silky thread, but is usually used to make coarser fabrics, like coffee bags and landscaping goods. It’s apparently also good if you’re a sniper.
Like linen and hemp, jute is a bast fiber, which means that the woody core of the plant is removed through a process called retting. During this process, microorganisms (or synthetic agents) dissolve part of the stalk so that the useable part of the fiber (the skin) may be harvested and spun. A common way of retting fibers is to sink them in a bog for a couple of weeks while the organisms do their work.
Jute grows very fast and doesn’t require pesticides or specialized irrigation; it’s rain fed and grows best in monsoon climates. India consumes and produces the most jute fibers, since the government decreed that it be used as packing material.
I’d love to feel some silky jute! Burlap and jute twine are pretty rough, so I have a hard time imagining it. Even so, jute can make some pretty cool looking stuff.
Have a gander at this post by Moxii, a furnishing store in Alabama, for some ideas of cool burlap projects. DesignSponge has featured numerous burlap items, like this a burlap-sack stocking and rocking chair makeover. Etsy has some more great examples, or you could come on in and make your own!