I came across this blog at http://handwovenlife.blogspot.com/ that has been well researched and clearly explains the situation. This all begs the question, as she states, of the future of basketweaving as we know it. We will definitely see an upsurge in the use of natural materials that are available right here. This all seems to be a huge problem now, but might this not be a blessing in disguise?? To relearn to gather and prepare our own materials? We may see a rise in the use of recycled materials as well. Food for thought. I just know as a teacher, more planning before submitting teaching proposals will be needed! And yes, costs may also go up.
From Juliana's blog: Friday, October 12, 2012
About a year or so ago, the cost of reed from my supplier was $6.99 per pound. Over the course of the year since, reed prices have steadily increased, and when I checked a few days ago, reed was up to a whopping $8.79/pound!
Coupled with the unbelievable increase in shipping costs, I found myself concerned over the future of basket weaving in America. I'm sure I don't have to explain to you the effect sharp price increases in a struggling economy would have on a small basket-weaving business, let alone not being able to readily get the raw materials needed.
This led me to investigate what exactly is behind this shortage and consequent increase in the price of rattan reed. One supplier mentioned shipment problems from China.
I found several articles that report an Indonesian ban on the export of raw rattan materials effective around the beginning of 2012.
You can read one of the articles here.
Since around 85% of the world's consumption of raw rattan comes from Indonesia, this seems to be the most plausible explanation, and would also explain why China cannot fill the demand for reed at this time (China imports from Indonesia, then exports to the United States).
I believe that destruction of rain forests has contributed to the decision by the Indonesian government to keep its supply in-house, and to only export finished products made in their country that use rattan (rattan furniture is a big one for them).
I also read that the Indonesians have initiated a cultivation program for rattan in an effort to safe-guard the long-term supply.
Based on what I found, I am not holding out much hope that reed prices will drop anytime soon, or that it will become any easier to obtain supplies of reed.
The Indonesian ban is in place for at least the next two years.
All of this calls for a need to find ways to reduce waste, conserve reed, or perhaps try using other more readily available materials for weaving.
It used to be that using wood slotted bases added significantly to the cost of a finished basket, but it is definitely one way to use less reed!
Do you have any cost-cutting ideas? What have you heard about the reason behind the rattan shortage? I'd love to hear from you!