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Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates


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May 28, 2019

Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - three plates of differing sizesHere in Tahiti we use coconut leaves for many different things. They are used to weave roofing panels for your home, making a broom to clean your home, or even used to make serving plates to serve food on.

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The coconut leaves can be cut and made into a costume that is used in a traditional dance. Once the leaves are dry, people will remove the center of the leaves or the steam and make a broom that is used to clean the garden or even your home with. This is called a niau broom. The pieces are gathered together and attached with a thick piece of elastic. This normally is a bicycle tube cut into strips. This holds the pieces together to make the broom.

At weddings, the tradition here in Tahiti is to invite your family and closest friends to a Himaa the day after the wedding. The traditional Tahitian food is cooked in an underground oven and served on niau plates. The family will prepare the plates the day before the wedding or even the day after while the food is cooking in the underground oven. The plates are made by weaving two sections of coconut leaves together.

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1

Source: I learned how to make these from a Tahitian Mommy.

Supplies:

  • 2 fresh cut coconut leaves
  • 1 sharp knife
Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - coconut palm leaf
 

Steps:

  1. Split the coconut leaf down the middle. Use the sharp knife to clean off some of the excess steam down the middle of the leaves. You don't need it that thick to make the plates with.
  2. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - cut the leaves in half and remove some of the excess stem
     
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  3. Cut the leaves into 4 leaf sections. You will need 2 sections to make your plate with. You can also make the plates larger by cutting the leaves into 5 or 6 sections. Just make sure you have 2 sections cut the same in order to weave the leaves.
  4. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - cut into 4 sections
     
  5. You will now use the section on the right to weave into the section on the left. Take the first leaf and weave it into the section. It is an over and under weave. The next one should go under then over. This follows until you have all 4 leaves on the right woven into the leaves on the left.
  6. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - weaving in process, over and under, then under and over for the next section
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - begin weaving
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - last row
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - almost done weaving
     
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  7. Once this is done, you'll need to adjust the leaves and bring them down to the base of the steam or the center of the pieces you've cut. Do this by moving the leaves down one at a time on both sides and adjusting the base of the leaves so they are both at a 90 degree angle. Your woven section will be in the middle and you should have 4 leaves sticking off to the left and the right side.
  8. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - carefully move the parts together at the stem ends
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - view from the side
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - tightened weaving with 4 leaf parts sticking out on each side
     
  9. Now start on the left hand side of the project. Make sure the base of the project is facing you or at the bottom. On this side the leaf will be bent at a 90 degree angle or turned under so that it can be woven into the other 4 leaves. On this side you will weave under and then over until you have completed the roll. Pull the leaf down so that it sits right next to the previous roll in your weave.
  10. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - turning weaving process
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - turning the leaves and weaving back to the other side
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - edge forming
     
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  11. Now we need to weave from the right hand side of your project. On this side the roll is woven over and then under. So this time we turn the leaf to the top and make our 90 degree angle so what we can weave the leaf across.
  12. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - straight on photo working from the right side
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - working to make the right edge
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - leaf turned at a 90 degree angle
     
  13. Go back to the left hand side and weave the leaf the same as you did before.
  14. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - repeat from the left
     
  15. The next roll is woven from the right hand side.
  16. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - back to the right side
     
  17. This alternates every time you weave a roll on the plate. So each time you will have 4 strands or ends of the leaves on each side of your plate.
  18. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - repeat
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - progress shown
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - plate getting longer
     
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  19. Continue weaving the plate until you've reached the end. At this time you will take the left hand side 4 leaves and tie them into a knot and you'll do the same with the right hand side of the leaves. Your plate is now complete and you can use it to serve food on.
  20. Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - continue to the end
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - knot the leaves on the right and the left
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - finished plate sitting on an outside table
     
    Weaving Coconut Leaf Plates - finished plate in foreground and someone making another in the background
     
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