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    How to Make a whicker basket

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    Join date : 2011-05-30

    How to Make a whicker basket

    Post  Admin on Tue May 31, 2011 6:21 pm


    We will start by introducing some simple terminology...·

    · When looking at the base of a basket, the strong straight sticks that radiate from the center are called 'Spokes'.
    · When these are turned upwards to form the sides; then they are called 'Stakes'. (These straight structural sticks are traditionally called the 'Warp')·
    · Any pieces of willow woven between the stakes/ spokes are call 'Weavers' (traditionally known as the 'Weft')

    Expert basket makers may use techniques which slightly differ to my way of doing things. Although I am not an expert I still wanted to pass on my basket making knowledge in this article.

    Some basket weavers harvest their own willow for basketry from the countryside. Not all Willow is suitable for basket making; some is too brittle and will snap when bent to the extremes needed for basket making. If you forage for suitable willow in the countryside, simply kink a stem of Willow sharply to 90 degrees and more; if it snaps then it is no good for basketry... continue searching for a different variety.
    Often the Willow with colorful bark such as reds, purples and oranges are the best types of willow. If you don't have access to collect your own Willow then you can always buy it. There are many basket-weaving supply companies on the internet.

    Once you get your willow, if it is fresh then you will need to Dry it. Baskets made from freshly cut Willow full of sap will shrink and become loose later on. When the willow is dry the bark will have wrinkled slightly.
    Before you begin weaving your Willow it will need to be soaked first to make it flexible. If you have willow with the bark on; the soaking can take about 1 week. Most people recommend you then wrap it in a damp blanket and leave it over night to 'mellow'.

    You wont need many tools to make a simple basket like this; a pocket knife, a pair of secateurs and maybe an Awl or Bodkin. I have made baskets in the past with just a knife but the secateurs make life a lot easier!

    Step One
    Cut 8 sections of Willow from thick shoots. Cut them about the length of from your elbow to your fingertips.

    Step Two
    At the center of four of these rods make a split only a few centimeters long.

    Step Three
    Insert the normal rods through the centers of the split rods to form a cross; this is called a 'Slath'( for better looking and stronger results be sure to alternate thick and thin ends to make it even)

    Step Four
    Rummage through your bundle of Willow and find the thinnest, longest shoots, these will make good weavers for the start. Take two weavers and Insert the thin ends into the split Slath like this...

    Step Five
    At the beginning we are going to use a basketry technique called 'Twining'; this is a very simple weave and is useful for locking stakes and spokes in place. The technique involves holding the two weavers and twisting them one over the other so that they swap places.

    Step Six
    Each twist is always done in the same direction. After each twist the next spoke (or spokes in this occasion) are then put between the two weavers and then next twist is made... thus locking then in place. See the photos... it's really very simple! Twine around each set of 4 spokes. Make two rows.

    Step Seven
    Once you have completed two rows of twining around each set of four spokes we will proceed by twining around each individual spoke. Bend each spoke outwards to space them out. Space the spokes evenly, once you've completed one row of twining they should all be separated like a bicycle wheel. Work your way all the way round for a couple more rows.

    Step Eight
    At some point you will be near to the ends of your weavers and will need to add new ones in. Its best not to add two new weavers in at the same time. look at the photo, in this example I am replacing weaver 'B' with the new Weaver labeled 'A'. I have taken weaver A and sharpened the end, then shoved it down between the weave of the last two rows, then bent it over to follow the path of the old weaver. I can now cut the old weaver (B) off and continue twining around the basket. When replacing weavers add thick ends to thick ends and thin ends to thin ends. Replacing the other old weaver a little further around the basket.

    Step Nine
    After twining a couple of rows around the spokes we are now going to stop our twine weave and will continue with just a plain weave which involves just weaving one weaver in and out of the spokes. You will continue this type of weave until the base expands to the desired diameter. However, for this plain type of weave to work correctly we need an odd number of spokes to weave around. we currently have 16 spokes so we need to just add one more in. Simply insert it down between the weavers of the last couple of rows. Sometimes it can be hard to push the new spoke in so point the end and use an Awl to open out a passage before hand. (if you don't have an Awl or Bodkin you could just use a thick metal nail)

    Step Ten
    Cut one of the weavers off and continue to weave in a normal fashion around in and out of the spokes.

    Step Eleven
    To add new weavers in you can just lie the old one next to the new one and then carry on…Continue weaving until you have reached the desired diameter. The base at this point is 8 inches in diameter. The base will have probably developed a concave shape... this is good as it gives a rim for the basket to sit on. You can encourage this formation more during the weaving of the base if you pull the spokes downwards every now and then.

    Step Twelve
    It's now time to 'stake up' the basket to start forming the sides. For this stage use medium-thick Willow shoots, you'll need one for each spoke. Sharpen the thick end of each.

    Step Thirteen
    You now need to insert the new Willow shoots into the weave alongside each of the spokes. If you look at a shoot of Willow you will notice that at the thick end it is slightly curved; insert each shoot so that the concave side is facing downwards.

    Step Fourteen
    Cut the ends of the old spokes off level with the edge of the weave.

    Step Fifteen
    Now take one of your new stakes and bend it to the left underneath the two next to it, then bend it upwards as shown in the first two photos below. Now take the next stake to the left and bend it in the same way. Continue this procedure all the way around the basket. It can be fiddly to keep all the stakes in place at once but try your best.(At this stage the stakes can just be bent upwards but bending them in the way described above creates a nice rim for the basket to sit on.)

    Step Sixteen
    The last two stakes will have no other stake to be bent up and around; so they need to be threaded up behind those stakes you bent first. Once you've threaded those last two stakes into place; everything will be locked together. Tie the stakes together at the top to stop them falling all over the place.

    Step Seventeen
    Now we can begin to weave the sides of the basket. You can just start the main weave straight after turning the stakes up, but for the purpose of this tutorial we will start with a type of weave called a 'three rod wale'. This type of weave gives a nice border before the start of the main weaving; and also helps to hold the up-turned stakes firmly in position. To weave a 'three rod wale', insert three new weavers along side three consecutive stakes. Take the left most weaver and bent it to the right in front of the next two stakes, then behind the third; then back out to the front. Now take the next weaver and repeat the same movement; then the next and the next and so on...

    Once you've done 2 rows of three rod wale you can stop and untie the stakes at the top.

    Step Eighteen
    We can now begin our main weave which will form the rest of the sides to the basket. We are going to use a type of weave called 'French Randing'. This type of weave is very popular; it creates nice even walls and you can weave considerably fast with a good rhythm. Firstly, we need to add one weaver in next to every stake around the basket. Choose nice long thin weavers with an equal length. Add the weavers in one by one so that the direction of the growing tip is to the left hand side. Place the butt end behind a stake, now bend it over the next stake to the left, then behind the third stake, then out to the front again. The weaver will hold it's self in place. Now we add the next weaver in, place the butt end behind the next consecutive spoke to the right; weave over the top of the previous weaver in the same fashion. Keep adding weavers in until you have worked your way all the way around the basket.

    Step Nineteen
    Now we can start weaving... start with any one of the weavers you just added in and weave it to the left in the same order you did previously: in front; behind; then out to the front again. Then take the next weaver to the right and do the same... that's all there is to it, just keep weaving around the basket.

    Step Twenty
    When you come back around to the point where you started weaving, you will notice that there are two weavers behind two of the stakes instead of just one. You're probably wondering which one to weave first... Weave the ones underneath first, then everything will look back to normal. The photo illustrates that weaver number 1 should be woven first, then number 2. Now this row of randing is complete, you can continue by taking any one of the weavers and weaving it in the same way as before. carry on with your continuous French Randing until you have woven all of the weavers out to their tips. Cut off any surplus ends.

    Step Twenty-one
    Lock the Randing down with a row of three rod wale...
    You can build your basket as high as you wish by continuing with more French randing. One layer of randing should be enough for this type of basket. All we need to do now is bend the stakes down and weave them into a rim. There are many different rim designs which are made by weaving in front and behind different combinations of stakes, I have found that you can even make your own rim designs up...For this particular pattern... take one of the stakes and bend it down to the right. Take it behind the first two consecutive stakes; in front of the third and fourth stakes; then behind the fifth stake; then back out to the front. Now take the next stake standing to the right and repeat the same weaving order.

    The last couple of stakes will have insufficient upright stakes in front of them to weave around. However, just repeat the same weaving pattern but you'll have to thread the tip in and out of the border to achieve the same movement and pattern. Finally cut the long tips off flush with the side of the basket.

    Step Twenty-two
    To form the main structure of the handle you'll need a thick flexible rod of Willow or other suitable wood. Bend it over and work out how long you want the handle to be, then cut it to length. Sharpen the ends and shove them down into the weave of the basket at directly opposite sides.

    Step Twenty-three
    Now take 4 or 5 long medium-thick stems of Willow and insert these down into the weave alongside one end of the handle.

    Step Twenty-four
    Wrap these rods around the thick handle frame several times until you reach the other side. Thread the tips under the woven rim of the basket.

    Step Twenty-five
    Repeat the last stage working over from the other side to fill in the gap.

    Step Twenty-six
    Take those tips and pull them up tight against the side of the handle. Then insert a thin stem of willow down into the weave alongside.

    Step Twenty-seven
    Bend this new piece of willow over and start wrapping it around those tips to lock them in place. after several wraps, secure the end as shown in the pictures.

    Step Twenty-eight
    Finally trim off the tip ends….Basket Complete!


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