Raffia is a flexible substance that is made from the leaves of palm trees. It is soft like string and has an almost papery feel to it. Raffia's flexibility lends itself to many crafts, and it is used around the world in weaving to make items both useful and decorative. Both the home crafter and the handicraft artist can take advantage of raffia's features to create artistic craft items.
Use raffia to make ornaments for holidays or everyday decoration. Because of its texture, raffia combines well with corrugated cardboard. Cut out shapes in the cardboard, paint it, and then tie it together and embellish it with raffia. You can also take different colours of raffia and weave it together to form different shapes that you can hang from hooks, curtain rods or Christmas trees.
Raffia can be tied together and woven, shaped with glue or tied with wire to create a number of different home decor items. Use raffia to create craft products for your dining room table by making napkin rings or sticking raffia pom-poms on bamboo skewers to create drink stirrers. Make a wreath or a large bow out of raffia to hang on your door or above a fireplace. Use pieces of stiff raffia to make a vase or a recipe card holder.
There is a long tradition in many cultures of weaving raffia to make functioning objects for the household or artistic items that can be sold. It continues to be encouraged today because it is considered a sustainable craft. Leaves can be harvested each year to make the raffia and the tree does not have to be cut down. Use multiple colours of raffia and learn how to weave with them. There are several different weaving techniques. For example, artisans in Uganda use a coil technique in which the raffia is wrapped around a banana stalk and then coiled to create a circle with the material. They then use a needle to sew the raffia coils to hold multiple basket layers together. The stitches become a part of the pattern as well. Handicrafters use raffia to create baskets, bowls, trunks, floor mats, place mats and sun hats.
Use raffia to embellish ordinary items or other handcrafted creations. Take a strand of raffia and surround a basket or a bowl and make a bow in front. Use it to create a fringe on a vase. Make a raffia flower and attach it to a ceramic bowl. Weave several colours of raffia together and use it as a curtain tie. Add raffia tassels to decorative pillows.