There’s no success like failure…

ash basket detail 2

there’s many different ways to weave the round-bottom baskets; but I only know one. well, I used to know it. I use 16 uprights, laid out in 2 batches of 8. One of the first 8 uprights is split to create an odd number so the weaving can continue in a spiral up & around the basket. I’ve woven these for years, formerly more often than lately; but I did one just two weeks ago to prepare for Plymouth CRAFT class I had a week ago.

at that class, I fell flat on my face. The students were amazing, they took to pounding out ash splints like crazy; and each of them wove up either a square-to-round basket or rectangular to oval basket on the first day. (group photo by Marie Pelletier) 

 

I went home that night thinking, this’ll be great – tomorrow they can make more splints and we’ll weave the round bottom…except they got tired. And I lost my way – and couldn’t get the bottoms started right. For the life of me, I couldn’t see what was wrong…I had several examples right there in front of me. I almost took one apart! I knew the problem was when to bring in the 2nd batch of 8 uprights. That’s what I kept messing up.

I came home & the next couple of days I wove 4 of them. Got it nailed, now. I never really taught basket making before, and having to explain something really pushes you…here’s how I actually weave a round bottom (also termed a “double bottom”) basket. I make 16 uprights. These were about 15” long, I made a mark the mid-point of each upright. Just fold the strip in half, and scribe with a pencil. then mark out from that in both directions, say 4”. Take a pair of scissors and cut an hourglass shape on each upright. This cut comes in just beyond the outer marks, tapers down quite narrow for where it crosses the mid-point. the idea is to make these uprights narrow where they all fan out in the middle. ‘

Now, take the 1st eight, and lay them down with the inside of the basket facing up. First two form a cross, then diagonals each way.

4

 then keep adding pairs of uprights, splitting the spaces. the eighth one has been trimmed so one end of it down to the mid-point has been cut in half. This creates the odd number of uprights. As I said, there’s lots of ways to lay these out; this falls under the line “You do it like that?”

8

Now a narrow thin weaver starts right in at the split upright. I snug the end into the split, and then over one/under one as it winds around the spokes formed by the uprights. this is tight curves, so the weaver wants to be thin. and narrow. but I already told you that…

close up first set

a few trips around and it begins to look like something. Soon, you’ll need to add the 2nd set of 8 uprights. These get laid in place, one by one, and woven down to the mat created by weaving the the first 8. And this is where I messed up. But what I found out is it matters where and when you add the next uprights. You want to start laying in the new batch when the weaver is coming from underneath the split upright.

1st one of 2nd set
first upright of the 2nd eight getting woven down to the first eight

This way you’re binding the new uprights down to the first batch. It’s so simple and logical, but my fuddled head just couldn’t get it while under the gun.

success 2
All sixteen woven together now

Good judgement is the result of experience, and experience is the result of poor judgement. yeah, right. Like that. 

double bottom

3 thoughts on “There’s no success like failure…

  1. Beautiful basket-work. You inspired me to give an ash log a pounding a couple of years ago, but unfortunately all we have down here is green ash. The rings didn’t separate consistently, and the splints that I did tease apart were so brittle as to be useless. Wish I could get my hands on a nice black ash, but even white ash looks worlds better than green.

    I’ve done a bit of basketwork with white oak splints, but mostly those have gone into chair seats.

  2. Hi Peter. Beautiful baskets. I have been making lots of square to round baskets out of European Ash lately and have today started on a round basket inspired by this post. But i’ve been having a nightmare just trying to get started with the first weaver. Have you any tricks for keeping the uprights together while you wrap that first weaver around?

    Cheers
    Pete

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