peeling ash splints

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

 

About these ads

7 thoughts on “peeling ash splints

  1. Is there such a thing as a basket made from inner bark only?

    The McMullen book on New England Native American baskets is excellent, and so is the bushwhacker book.

    I never saw anybody using a crooked knife so I don’t have a clue about them.

  2. I remember that, back in the ’70s, UConn, in its School of Agriculture, had a basket-making course. At the time, it was the object of humor about “gut” courses; I wonder if that would happen now? I wonder if the course survived?

    • Funny how things turn out – once the worst thing I could be was square and now it’s the thing I work for the hardest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s