Today I decided to make a little round basket, with a relatively wide bottom and low sides.
Here’s the completed bottom.
I also decided to try a special type of weave, called an Indian weave. I had never done this before! This involves making a consistent, deliberate “error”– weaving over two stakes in each row, progressively moving the error each time. This creates a subtle spiral pattern on the outside of the basket. It’s a little hard to see in photos– it’s easiest to see if you rotate the basket as you hold it in your hands– but here is a close-up of the spiral pattern.
See the stair-step where the weavers are on the outside in two adjacent rows? Check out a wider picture and the finished basket below!
I started making baskets because I was hired to work at Historic Cold Spring Village last summer. Here’s what I look like when I weave baskets there!
Photo courtesy of my Aunt Shannon
Basketry was the position they had open there, and I was happy to learn. A veteran staff member (who also happened to be someone I graduated high school with and have known since I was a small child!) worked with me for a few days and taught me the basics of basketweaving. After that, I was on my own with a couple of reference books. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to experiment and practice.
HCSV is an open-air living history museum, so all summer I talked to visitors while I wove. The first question most people ask? “What are you using to make that?” More on this after the jump!
To make this basket unique I decided to give it a special shape. Shaping baskets takes persistence and doesn’t always turn out exactly the way you want it to!
I started with a very small base, and then allowed the sides of the basket to flare out as I wove. This can be accomplished by weaving loosely or by pulling out on the stakes after each row.
Squeezing the tops of the stakes together helps me imagine the desired shape. I added some color at the apex of the curve. (Also I just got my toes done, they’re cute right?)
To make the basket more narrow toward the top, I pulled tightly as I weaved and bent the stakes inward. I wanted the curve to be a little more dramatic, but I am still happy with the shape. Finished basket after the jump!
A simple but functional little basket. I included some dyed reed in this one to add a little color accent.
Round baskets look like a sunshine when you start them. As you can see, they also naturally have a sold bottom.
The weaving on this one was pretty standard. I chose to make the rim with a thick, half-round piece of reed, and was not happy with the result: (oops!)
The edges of the rim would not lay flat at the overlap. So I took it off and re-lashed the rim with a flat piece of reed!
Final product after the jump!
Everyone is in luck today, because my wonderful friend Zach is visiting and he agreed not only to hang around while I made a basket but also to take a lot of pictures of me doing it! I decided to make a hearth basket, which sits by the fireplace and is ideal for holding kindling.
For this basket, I started with a pre-made D-ring which serves as a stake and also the handle. Here’s me laying out the stakes.
I had to work at the kitchen table because this basket is so big. Here I weave the rest of the stakes to form the bottom.
Here’s that example I was promising of a small but tough basket.
Making a square basket* with a solid bottom is harder than you might think. If you lay your stakes directly next to each other in order to form a solid bottom, in most cases there is then no room to weave in between them and form the sides. Therefore special techniques are necessary. For this basket, I laid smaller pieces of reed between the stakes to fill the gaps. So the bottom has a really tight weave. Take a look:
Nice tight base!
The “extra” stakes are simply trimmed and hopefully tucked somewhere, and don’t actually get woven into the sides.
Another of this week’s projects was a wall basket. Any basket which has a flat back and some handles is perfect to hang on the wall. I love this type because it can be so functional but is also so attractive!
There are three basic types of baskets– square bottom (rectangles count too), round bottom, and ribbed. You’ll see examples of all three on this blog, but this one is square bottomed. Here’s how this kind of basket starts out:
Beginning of the wall basket
The long pieces you see above are called stakes, and they form the bottom (grid part shown here) and sides of the basket. After I laid out the pieces in that grid, I bent the edges up and began to weave around.
Love the finished product!
Lovely to hold either something decorative or something you might need as you go in and out the door– mail that needs to go to the post office? A small umbrella? Endless possibilities.