Basket Making video: Pounding and Peeling Splints

This one is long. And the first 10 minutes have too much background noise; wind & traffic. When the wind is from the east here, I get more traffic noise from rte 3. And just above the area I’m working in outdoors is our road, so I was sort of wedged between the devil & the deep blue sea.

But I hope it’s worth it – this video shows how I pound apart the billets to make splints, then how to “dress” them, both by scraping them with a knife, and splitting them in half. Then how to trim them to width. All this work, combined with the previous video, is preparation of the material. Then comes weaving…

I think I wore Daniel out editing this one. So I have to give him some time off before the next one…

There will be a few baskets for sale soon. Save up…

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

another basket underway

weaving

I’m having so much fun working at making ash baskets lately, in preparation for the upcoming class at Plymouth CRAFT – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=wood-splint-baskets-with-peter-follansbee that I feel like I’m skipping work. Today I wove up another rectangular-body basket, this time with what I call a “filled” bottom. All that I mean by that is instead of the usual weaving pattern that results in square spaces between the pieces in the bottom, there are extra fillers woven in to fill these voids. There’s lots of ways to achieve this, – earlier I showed one version:

filled bottom

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/baskets-continued/

This time, the filler strips were woven continuously, whereas on the one above, they are individual strips woven between each row. those fold over on  themselves. These don’t. (this view is what will be the inside of the basket). Here as I add each wide piece, the narrower weaver wraps around it and winds down the sides…so the white one on the right will bend 90-degrees, and I’ll lay in the next wide piece, then the white one will run down beside it. and the one on the left will do the same, but going up the other way. And on & on.

filled weave

I hadn’t done this weaving since 1990, it took me a couple of false starts to “get it” again. It helped that I was using some newer material mixed with older stuff – so bright white weavers against the aged-looking uprights.

Here’s the view from the bottom:

bottom view

Got it woven up to the point where I now have to let it dry. This one has individual horizontal weavers. That’s how you can work in some narrow & some wide weavers for a different look. This basket is about 10″ x 14″ by maybe 7″ high. I’ll make the rims from white oak, as a demo in the class.

time to dry it

Time to clean up, so I can do some carving tomorrow. And then more of each…

 

 

my, what semi-perfect ears you have…

For some reason, I have always referred to these things as “ears” – musta heard that term somewhere. They are the bits that a swing-handle fits on for a basket. I make them from white oak or hickory, white oak is the 1st choice. Those on the right in this photo are semi-perfect; those on the left are perfect; the middle ones might make it, they might not. They tore up on the outside of the bend. Might be enough wood to shave away & still have something left behind. Bending white oak basket stuff is what I did today; after running around doing chores first. 

semi perfect ears

I didn’t take shots of the process – it’s too hard to do it & shoot it too. This photo shows some ears and other handles. I rive & shave them from green wood, then steam them in a steambox, a pretty simple one I cobbled together back in my windsor chair days. 

handles & ears

 

Here’s an un-bent ear; for an idea – these are 3/8″ squares; the shaved portion is 3″ long. Quite small. 

unbent ear

 

 

Here’s my newest swing-handle basket = a big one, about 14″ in diameter; about 10″ high to the rim. White ash & white oak. 

 

 

swing handle basket

This style of swing handle is one I learned from a book – The Legend of the Bushwhacker Basket, by Martha Wetherbee & Nathan Taylor

Here’s mine with the handle propped up, as it will be in use…

 

swnig up

And here are the ears in detail; they cross the basket from inside to outside; and fit in a hole bored in the handle. Then the ears are notched, and the rims fit into the notches inside & out. the ends of the ears are shaved thin, and slide under the basket’s weaving. Then the lashing binds it all together. 

installed ear & lashing

installed ear