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General >> General Slinging Discussion >> New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
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Message started by IronGoober on Jun 27th, 2020 at 11:25pm

Title: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jun 27th, 2020 at 11:25pm
Behold!

The best houseplant/landscaping plant sling material (in my opinion).

I made a sling in roughly 2 hours from it. The sling weighs only 10.4 g and is very strong. The cords are so light I don't think it would have much of an abrasion problem (to be determined).

You can scrape off the non-fibrous material, similar agave (sisal) in this video. But I did not.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ouNR6djZy4

If you are in a northern area, this won't survive cold winters, but apparently it makes a decent house plant and can live indoors.† I went to my local nursery and purchased one. Worth it for sure. It's a perennial, so it should live for a while. This is a small plant. Some grow to 2 meters tall.

Update: Here is a video of the fiber extraction process.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCbtz9xLafQ
I use a plant that is roughly 2 m tall.

Phormium_Tenax_2.jpg (537 KB | 32 )
New_Zealand_Flax_Sling_-_Natural_Environment.jpg (513 KB | 13 )
New_Zealand_Flax_Sling_-_10_4g.jpg (286 KB | 13 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jun 27th, 2020 at 11:37pm
And to support my declaration that it is the best, here is a paper on its strength, comparable tensile strength with sisal (breaking strength), but a higher Young's modulus (less stretch for the same force applied).

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.661.726&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Jun 27th, 2020 at 11:45pm
Do you know if it as brittle as yucca?

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jun 28th, 2020 at 12:17am
The leaves are a bit brittle when dried, but I don't have any experience with yucca, so I cannot comment. Can you make cordage from yucca that is pliable after it dries? or is it brittle?

Update: No, when dried these fibers are still quite pliable.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Jauke on Jun 28th, 2020 at 11:05am
I like it

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Jun 28th, 2020 at 11:39am
yucca fiber is slightly brittle compared to sisal, but still good for slings. I have made a few.


Yucca_baccata.jpg (27 KB | 30 )
Sisal_fiber_Sierra_nevada_004.jpg (106 KB | 12 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Jauke on Jun 28th, 2020 at 1:14pm
Awesome sling Walter!

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jun 28th, 2020 at 1:18pm
Beautiful. If my plant grows big enough to harvest enough leaves, I would like to make one of these.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Rat Man on Jun 28th, 2020 at 2:43pm
Great looking slings, guys. 

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Jun 28th, 2020 at 6:24pm
Thanks! It is an 18" Sierra Nevada horseback sling, but too short for me. I also made the cords too wide for the length and it somehow ended up with a balearic pouch :D


Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Tejo on Jun 29th, 2020 at 1:52pm
Extracting the fibers from this plant is really easy and they are very strong. I still haven't had an opportunity to make a sling out of it.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 19th, 2020 at 11:10pm

Tejo wrote on Jun 29th, 2020 at 1:52pm:
Extracting the fibers from this plant is really easy and they are very strong. I still haven't had an opportunity to make a sling out of it.


Ok, so I finally found a video that does a good job showing the fiber extraction process (apparently called "muka"). Holy moly, one can get a lot of good fiber from it. Now I'm gonna have to get a bigger plant. It seems easier than the extraction of sisal from agave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsL8SV-cVL8

Go to about 6:40 for the extraction part.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by jauke on Jul 20th, 2020 at 8:01am
wow, that's much easier and quicker than getting it from nettles
This motivates me to see what other plants are available here to get fibers from

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Morphy on Jul 20th, 2020 at 12:35pm
The way she reverse twists the cordage down for both cords then back up into one in one simple motion is cool. Iíve not seen that upward motion before..

That is a great plant. I had no idea processing it was so easy. The Houston area is subtropical so ďmaybeĒ we could grow it here but probably have to put it in shade as the heat is oppressive. Apparently under the right conditions they can get huge which would make for a nice renewable source of cordage.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 20th, 2020 at 4:17pm
There was apparently a huge industry around it, but it has since dried up with all the wide availability of synthetic fibers. I say forget sythetic, compostable is better!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x55pssmuVCU

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Jul 20th, 2020 at 7:41pm
Thanks for sharing this! P tenax might also make a good bow string.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 21st, 2020 at 5:57pm
Ooh, that is a good idea. Bow strings for self bows typically need some amount of stretch though, right? I don't know how this would compare, but it seems pretty non-stretchy (the technical term).

I'm also not sure about it's abrasion resistance.†

I found an apartment complex nearby with one of these plants on every corner. Each one is like at least 5 feet high. I cut off 5 leaves (about 2 m long each) and extracted fibers from 2 leaves already. I think that alone is close to having enough for a balearic sling, but maybe I'll need 3 or 4 leaves' worth. I'll take some pictures tonight and post them.

The extraction process in the video a few posts up is as easy as it looks. But one can get a LOT more fiber if you just scrape off the green bits from the rest of the leaf.† I'm pumped.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Morphy on Jul 21st, 2020 at 9:32pm

IronGoober wrote on Jul 21st, 2020 at 5:57pm:
I found an apartment complex nearby with one of these plants on every corner. Each one is like at least 5 feet high. I cut off 5 leaves (about 2 m long each) and extracted fibers from 2 leaves already. I think that alone is close to having enough for a balearic sling, but maybe I'll need 3 or 4 leaves' worth. I'll take some pictures tonight and post them.


Thats pretty amazing.  :D

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 22nd, 2020 at 10:20pm
Ok, so here are some pictures. I'll post a video of the scraping process in a bit.

The last picture shows the amount of fiber from about 4.5 leaves. I haven't made a balearic sling in a while (and haven't made a good one), but I think it will be enough.†

The pile of fibers includes the bits extracted through means shown through the video a few posts up and also using a dull metal tool (spatula) to scrape off the green matter and extract the fibers from the leaf too.


Leaf.jpg (294 KB | 29 )
EndOfLeaf.jpg (92 KB | 8 )
SplittingLeaf.jpg (118 KB | 9 )
ScrapingLeaf.jpg (194 KB | 26 )
4LeavesOfFibers.jpg (300 KB | 6 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Mersa on Jul 22nd, 2020 at 10:56pm
Canít wait to see the finished product!!

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 25th, 2020 at 3:35am
Here is the final sling. It is 42.5g, and about 26" (it stretches a bit).

I didn't put leather on it yet, but will be putting some of my bark-tanned deer hide on it.† I'm somewhat pleased with it. I think next time I'll use somthing to hold it so I can make a more even braid, but it is probably one of the better looking slings I've made (I can't seem to make them look as amazing as a lot of you on here). It's my second attempt at a balearic, so maybe my next one will look a bit cleaner.†

The fibers from 5 leaves were extracted and this barely was enough, I'm not actually sure if I could of finished it without a few extra fibers I'd extracted from my own plant.

I'm assuming the green fibers will eventually turn brown, but I kinda hope they stay green...

Here is the fiber extraction process in video form...
https://youtu.be/BCbtz9xLafQ
Phormium_Tenax_Balearic_small.jpg (90 KB | 22 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Morphy on Jul 25th, 2020 at 7:57am
Itís amazing to me that 5 leaves was enough for that. The video says it is processing so I canít watch it at the moment but is the fiber really like flax? Like hair fine to where it could be spun? I would love to save money and spin my own high quality cordage for braiding.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Jul 25th, 2020 at 1:04pm
The fiber looks a lot like yucca. Extraction process very similar. Y ucca leaves are quite wide, so I split them in half before scraping. Never tried length wise. If that works it would speed up t he extraction process.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 25th, 2020 at 1:32pm

Morphy wrote on Jul 25th, 2020 at 7:57am:
Itís amazing to me that 5 leaves was enough for that. The video says it is processing so I canít watch it at the moment but is the fiber really like flax? Like hair fine to where it could be spun? I would love to save money and spin my own high quality cordage for braiding.


Yeah, like I said though...barely. I'd say 6 would have safely been enough to finish it. The video should be up now. I put my computer to sleep before it had finished uploading...oops.

Some of the fibers are very coarse, these are the ones that are very easily extracted. The parts from the leaf that you have to scrape are much finer. It must be similar to flax, but I doubt it is as fine as the flax for linen. I watched a really neat video on how flax is made into thread and woven into linen. Those fibers are very fine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nspGz6xYzvg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gDWuWT23x4&


Quote:
The fiber looks a lot like yucca. Extraction process very similar. Yucca leaves are quite wide, so I split them in half before scraping. Never tried length wise. If that works it would speed up t he extraction process.


Yes, I would assume it is very similar.  The fibers when dried are still quite pliable. I didn't have a problem with them becoming brittle yet.


Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Jul 25th, 2020 at 8:25pm
For completeness, here is the sling with leather. I quite like this sling (hence all of the posts about it). I'm not sure if I'll get used to slinging with it, but man, is it much better for fast reloading. Because the retention cord resists twisting, the pouch is almost always oriented properly for quick reloading. I think that was one of Jaegoor's secrets in his rapid-fire slinging video. I tried doing this with my split-pouch slings, and I just can't keep my rate up high enough. The pouch always twists.  But, just one go with the balearic sling, and I can repeatably throw shots within about 5 seconds of another. Sorry if I'm preaching to the choir, I've never tried using a well-made balearic sling before.
Phormium_Tenax_Balearic_Leather1_small.jpg (96 KB | 12 )
Phormium_Tenax_Balearic_Leather2_small.jpg (104 KB | 7 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by jauke on Jul 26th, 2020 at 4:33am
-

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Nov 26th, 2020 at 10:29pm
So here's another New Zealand Flax sling. I made this in about 1† to 1.5 hours, start to finish from the raw material (Since it is a holiday here, it was a bit off and on).

It is 2 ply, about 23" from end of the retention loop to the center of the pouch. I would have done a splice for the retention loop, but I wanted to see how fast a sling could be made.

I stripped it using a piece of aluminum with a 90į edge, slightly dulled. It works much better than the metal spatula I used before. I tried to keep all the fibers in the main piece, but lost some, hence the small left over pile.† There is an overhand knot on the release cord near the pouch to keep† the "rockman" style pouch intact. Without the knot the 2 ply twine just let the leaves slip by each other and they are just stay stacked on top of one another without really forming a pouch. Because of this knot, I had to use the left over pile of fibers to make the release cord long enough for a loop.† This whole sling was made from a leaf that was about 5.5 feet long.

I love this plant.
NewZealandFlax_SingleLeaf.jpg (198 KB | 3 )
NewZealandFlax_SingleLeaf_Split.jpg (200 KB | 3 )
NewZealandFlax_SingleLeaf_Split_Stripped.jpg (233 KB | 4 )
NewZealandFlax_SingleLeaf_Split_Stripped_2ply.jpg (208 KB | 6 )
SingleLeafSling.jpg (173 KB | 5 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Kick on Nov 27th, 2020 at 1:36am
That's amazing. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up once it dries but it looks amazing. That plant is amazing.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by Morphy on Nov 27th, 2020 at 4:44am
Going from raw plant to sling in an hour and a half is pretty amazing. Love that you left the leaves as the pouch. Very cool look.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by vetryan15 on Nov 27th, 2020 at 4:54am
Wow. That looks great. Awesome job

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Nov 27th, 2020 at 11:50am
Goodbye yucca, hello nz flax :)
I will be planting this next spring

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Nov 27th, 2020 at 3:45pm

walter wrote on Nov 27th, 2020 at 11:50am:
Goodbye yucca, hello nz flax :)
I will be planting this next spring


My goal is to make converts! I think you'll like it. It does require a warmer climate to grow, though. There are also a ton of varieties. From what I've seen, just about any variety will yield useful fibers, but the green kind that I made the sling from (which I don't own), seems to be the best that I've used.

The leaves from older plants can get up to 2m tall. There is a neighbor that I asked if I could take some leaves, which is where I got this one from, and their plant has some 6ft leaves.  They mentioned that they want to get rid of it, so if I can, I want to try to transplant it into a large pot at my house. I have yet to figure out how to do it properly. The plant they have would fill 3 or 4 large planters, most likely.

There are a variety of fiber sizes that you get out of it, If I were more patient, I would separate the larger from the smaller and make small fiber (soft) and large fiber slings (more durable).  You asked a while back if the fibers are brittle. Not so far, even after 6 months of drying, they are nice an pliable.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by walter on Nov 27th, 2020 at 6:00pm
def going to try it
THANKS

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on Apr 19th, 2021 at 2:36am
To update anyone interested.

The dead and dried leaves off of this plant actually work wonderfully well to extract fiber.  You just need to put the dried leaves into water for a week or two.  It kind of serves as a retting process for normal flax. I'm not sure if the yield is as good as with the green leaves, but it seems that you do get more consistent size of fiber (the retting seems to strip out the small fibers when scraping).  I've made several balearic slings ~50g now from dry leaves.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on May 3rd, 2021 at 11:28pm

IronGoober wrote on Nov 26th, 2020 at 10:29pm:
So here's another New Zealand Flax sling. I made this in about 1† to 1.5 hours, start to finish from the raw material (Since it is a holiday here, it was a bit off and on).

It is 2 ply, about 23" from end of the retention loop to the center of the pouch. I would have done a splice for the retention loop, but I wanted to see how fast a sling could be made.

I stripped it using a piece of aluminum with a 90į edge, slightly dulled. It works much better than the metal spatula I used before. I tried to keep all the fibers in the main piece, but lost some, hence the small left over pile.† There is an overhand knot on the release cord near the pouch to keep† the "rockman" style pouch intact. Without the knot the 2 ply twine just let the leaves slip by each other and they are just stay stacked on top of one another without really forming a pouch. Because of this knot, I had to use the left over pile of fibers to make the release cord long enough for a loop.† This whole sling was made from a leaf that was about 5.5 feet long.

I love this plant.


This sling has held up ok. The pouch split a bit, but it still functions after 6 months or so. I just threw a few times with it, seems to be about the same as when it was made. I had to make many creases in the leaf (pouch)  to make it pliable enough as it dried, but it seems to be holding up. It never balanced projectiles well because I didn't perfectly balance the length of each side of the pouch, and that continues to be its only issue.

PXL_20210504_032238342_MP_exported_683.jpg (101 KB | 1 )

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by jw on May 4th, 2021 at 9:04pm
Where can you find the seeds or already grown plants ?

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by IronGoober on May 5th, 2021 at 1:24am
I got mine from a nursery. In Northern CA, they are at Lowes, or Home Depot, too.

Title: Re: New Zealand Flax - Phormium Tenax
Post by jw on May 5th, 2021 at 8:18am
Okay thanks will Definitely look  hopefully they have it on the east coast

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