Last week was basket week – and today I’ve started some new work, but I’ll show you what I did last week. Basket work will go on, but as a time-filler. I have enough baskets woven, or started, that I can pick them up here & there for an hour or two. Like many woodworking projects; most of the effort in basket-making is preparing the materials. I have written before about pounding the splints from an ash log – here’s links to old posts on the subject. I have some new posts coming up about peeling the splint, but in the meantime…
But right now, this post is about weaving up the basket bodies. Handles and rims are for another time. The basket itself is made up of the uprights and weavers. “Uprights” is something of a misnomer, because although they bend up to be the sides of the basket, they also form the bottom.
Uprights are generally heavier (thicker, and wider most often too) and weavers thinner and narrower. So a big part of the work is sorting and sizing the material.
If the splint is too thin to divide (or peel) then I scrape it smooth. This makes it less fuzzy, and also thins it some. Better for weaving. These pieces are uprights in the basket. To scrape it, I pull the splint across a piece of leather on my knee – then hold the knife in place to scrape it as I pull back…don’t do it w/o the leather! My them braces the knife blade so it stays stationary.
Then you have to trim them to the desired width. The baskets I was working on last week had around 25-30 uprights. Round baskets have 16, another time. those pictures are on a different camera.
Once you have all your uprights and weavers; you lay them out, this basket has long and short weavers; to form a rectangular bottom. I start with 3 going each way, and weave them one under the other, this way & that. Then add pieces side to side, and north & south. Here, I am weaving a single thin weaver around the perimeter of the basket’s bottom. This binds them together, keeps them from shifting around as I begin weaving the body. Some refer to this piece as a “keeper” – it keeps the uprights in place.
Some baskets have independent weavers – each horizontal row is a separate weaver. This is easy to do, but wastes a lot of material. So there’s lots of ways to weave a continuous spiral around the basket. But to do this and keep alternating where the weaver goes under and over the uprights, you need an odd number of uprights. You can split one, or add one. (or do one of several other approaches – but I usually split or add) - Here I added an upright, and tapered it to become the first weaver too. It’s towards the upper right hand corner of the photo – follow that bendy upright, and you see it weaves into the others. Then you just keep adding & overlapping each new weaver as one runs out. I overlap them for 2 uprights.
Then you just keep on weaving. I periodically dunk everything in the water, especially outdoors in summer. I want this stuff damp. Once I’ve gone around a bit, I gently bend things up and then cinch the weaver in tight as I go.
A basket like this has an “open” bottom – there are spaces between the uprights. That’s the most common form I make. but there is one we have around the house that is closed or “filled” in the bottom.
Next time I’ll show you how I lay that up.
Don’t forget – the spoons are posted and ready to go. The spoon rack I had sold, and one reader asked if I would make another – of course I will! Anytime you see something like that – if you missed it, and would like to order one, I’d be happy to oblige. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/