Raffia is the base ingredient for pretty much any kind of ghillie suit, it creates depth, adds tones and generally helps break up the shape of the ghillie.
One of the greatest benefits of Raffia is that it’s cheap, very cheap, it’s also available from a huge variety of places so easy to get hold off. Another great feature is the ability to dye/colour it.
Having purchased your Raffia, you’re probably wondering where to get started, the first thing to do is see how the colours compare to your local environment. Some brands of Raffia come very bright, whereas others come toned down with an already earthy look to them and some even come in a perfect green, but these are hard to track down and it’s a lot of trial and error.
Depending on what it is you’re after colour wise, you can try a few methods to alter the Raffia and experiment with the colours you can get. Some of the methods are easy, others require a bit more work, I’ll cover some of the basic methods for treating Raffia Below:
Coffee/Tea – This is a very basic way of toning down raffia so it’s less bright and has more earthy tones, simply shove your raffia into a pot, few tea bags or coffee (or both), add some boiling water, leave it for an hour or so, then strain and dry. The guys over at Point6 have done a quick video on this which you can find here.
Spray Paint – Another quick and easy method for treating raffia, is to simply just dust it with spray paint, using any browns or greens that you like, then let it dry. The key here is to spray it from a distance, you don’t want to it to close as the paint blogs and the raffia becomes very stiff.
Tone down green – This one is a long method and is something to just leave going on in the background. A lot of the Olive Raffia, is very bright, to the point where it almost glows, you can try to tone this down with paint, but I actually found one of the best way is to simply leave it in water for a week, somewhere it’s going to get the sun. I accidentally forget I left a load outside once in a box and then it rained, I was in the garden a few weeks later, took it out and it had toned down really nicely!
How to attach:
One of the simplest ways to attach this stuff to you suit (if it’s mesh/net based) is to purchase a Boile needle. This allows you to poke to needle through the mesh, place a loop of Raffia on it, then just pull it back through, you can then just tie the Raffia off, it takes seconds to do and is much easy then trying to cable tie or glue it on.
With the Raffia, how much you attached and the colours will depend completely on where you play and what the surroundings look like. A lot of the time you’ll want to have a few strands, slightly longer handing down from your shoulders and head, top of the legs etc, other times you might want to bundle the raffia up to make patches, in this case you’d want to bundle it up and then cable tie to the suit directly, this is a good way to add depth and brake up areas of the suit (head,shoulders,back).
Other easy tricks are:
Use scissors/knife to make the Raffia go thin and stringy, adding curves
Scrunch the raffia up to get rid of long straight lines
Add Raffia to the base of other items you attach, such as Cotton Tape or fake leaves, it’s another great way to add depth.