I’ve been researching sprang, looking for evidence of this textile technique in North America. Archaeologists at the Manitoba Museum tipped me off to an experimental archaeologist in Minnesota.
Grant Goltz has successfully recreated pottery using native clay. Normally the clay found across the American mid-west cannot be formed into the thin-walled large pots commonly found at sites of human habitation excavated by archaeologists. Mr Goltz, lead by the textile imprints in the pots, creates sprang bags, and then forms the pot inside the sprang bag. The bag supports the clay when wet and permits the creation of thin-walled vessels. The results are very accurate replicas of pots excavated from 900 year old sites.
Bags made as a rectangle, folded in half will not work to re-create these artifacts. The markings on the pottery clearly indicate ‘decreases’, fewer threads at the bottom of the pot than at the rim.
He told me that he initially tried to form the bag working from the rim down, tying knots as he removed threads. This did not yield satisfactory results. When he got the bright idea to work from the bottom up, he discovered that this method allowed him to create pots with markings identical to the pots from the dig sites.
Now, I find this exciting for a couple of reasons. It is another piece of evidence suggesting that North American people were creating textile bags 1000 years ago. It suggests that one textile technique used could have been sprang. I love the fact that it is a loom-less version of sprang. I’m really wanting to re-popularize sprang. Mostly the instructions for sprang start with the description of the loom or frame required. I’m wanting to find the ‘no-tools’ method, get people hooked with the technique, and then they will be motivated to fork out for the frame.