baskets old & new

baskets old & new

Remember those ash splints I pounded out this season?

I’ve been little by little working some into baskets lately. But to do so, I have had to re-learn much of what I used to know in spades. In the mid-to-late 1980s I made lots and lots of baskets, but since then I have only made a few each year. And those were fairly simple examples. But lately I have a renewed interest in them, so decided to get more involved in them. First thing, that meant re-acquiring some reference books – I had kept a couple of these, but then went out and ordered replacements for Shaker Baskets by Wetherbee & Taylor and A Key into the Language of Woodsplint Baskets.

reference materials

reference materials

In the short video that my friend Rick McKee shot, I pounded the growth rings apart, then showed how to peel them in half, leaving a smooth, shiny surface for weaving. You  can peel these bit by bit with your fingers, holding the  splint between your knees like I do in the video, but it’s faster if you make a device that I think of as a tiny riving brake. It’s two pieces of white pine, with a 2″ wide groove plowed in  one, about 1/4″ deep. Then they are glued face-to-face, so the groove is now in the midst of the thickness.

Soak the splint in warm water for a few minutes. Then score the splint near the end to create a tab to begin pulling it apart. Slide it up through the slot in the pine boards.  Now pull quickly, spreading your arms full-width. Presto!

peeling the splint apart at the tab

peeling the splint apart at the tab

pull

pull

pull quickly

pull quickly

Here’s a detail shot, showing the surface of the inside of the splint.

satiny finish

satiny finish

Here’s one of my old basket, showing a detail of the attachment for the swing handle. I learned this one from the book Legend of the Bushwhacker Basket, by Wetherbee & Taylor. I’m going to make a couple of these this winter…the basket is ash, the handle & “ears” are white oak. Lashing is hickory bark.

swing handle detail

swing handle detail

A small favorite over the years – it’s made it on the blog before here & there. Ash, with hickory rims and bark lashing. So there will be more of this when I get a bit further along.

ash basket, 1989

ash basket, 1989