Most of Charlie Kennard’s weaving experience has been with baskets. But lately, he’s been weaving a sinuous 150-foot-long fence in the Academy’s east garden. The fence, made from the branches pruned off of the iconic sycamore trees in the Music Concourse and Opera Plaza each winter, is now complete after four days and three miles worth of branches. While the format is larger, the principles of fence weaving are quite similar to those of basket weaving.
Kennard employed a California Indian weaving technique called twining, in which two bundles of branches are simultaneously woven through a series of fence posts on opposing sides, effectively wrapping both sides of each post in a sturdy sheath of branches. Woven fences have a minimal environmental impact and have probably been around since the beginnings of agriculture, though most use a technique called wicker weaving. He decided to twine this particular fence, and top it off with a special twisted weave at the top, to withstand the wear and tear of children’s curious hands and the beaks of local birds looking for nesting material.
A variety of native plants have been planted on the hillside beyond the new fence, so this spring, stop by the east garden to see thimble berries, California poppies, and a host of other colorful California native wildflowers in bloom.
Above: Kennard’s twining technique, and an illustration of a wattle fence from an 11th century Welsh manuscript
Below: Academy Landscape Exhibit Supervisor Alan Good (L), weaver Charlie Kennard, and the finished fence