Basket tour part 1

 

The past two weeks or so I’ve been pounding ash splints for making baskets. I’ve started weaving a few of them, and have lots more coming up. Baskets used to be almost a weekly thing for me, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before oak furniture took over my thoughts. But I always come back to them, they’re so much fun to make and even better – to have around.

While getting ready to plunge deeply into them in the next couple of weeks, I’ve been studying some that I have hanging around here. Unlike the baskets I’m starting these days, all these are white oak baskets. You split white oak growth rings apart, instead of pounding like you do ash.

First, some I got when we cleaned up Jennie Alexander’s house after her death. JA loved baskets, and collected lots of them, but especially white oak baskets. I brought home a couple. This one is by a Maryland basketmaker JA knew, James McCrobie.

Here is Mr. McCrobie, as Alexander referred to him, shaving oak at a fair in Maryland.

The bottom of this basket:

And the inside view:


This one’s special because it’s by our great friend Louise Langsner, for Alexander. Way back when Louise used to make white oak baskets. Later, she began growing willow & using that to weave baskets. This white oak basket has hickory bark lashing on the rims.

The bottom:

The inside:

Louise used to peg the handles to the rims. I learned that technique there at County Workshops about 1986 or so. I had read it before that in Drew’s book County Woodcraft. Watch Lost Art Press for an updated version of that classic book (I’ll post about it when it happens too…) – in it is a chapter by Louise about making her oak baskets.

Here’s my first oak basket from that class – the instructor was Darry Wood.

In 1989 I made this round bottom white oak basket for Alexander. It came back to me after her death:

Inside:

Bottom, with hickory bark reinforcements

The hickory handle has a double notch, the lashing is hickory bark.

This one’s mine too, from 1988, I probably made it at Langsner’s – that spring & summer I was the intern there. White oak, hickory handle

I’ve used this basket a lot. Usually it holds all my spoon-carving gear, mostly tools & spoons-in-progress. The bottom features two “skids” shaved hickory bent up into the body. These reduce wear & tear on the bottoms.

One more white oak by me – this one’s from 1990. I’m working (again!) to re-learn how I weave those “filled” bottoms. So I swiped this one back from my wife, emptied it, and will this time keep track of what I did to weave it.

But it’s all ash here now. I haven’t made a white oak basket since this one probably…here’s a real favorite, but very small basket in ash with hickory rims & handle, hickory bark lashing. It’s about 6″ x 8 1/2″ and the basket is 3″ high. I wish I could make them this good all the time. Better go practice…

These new ones still have potential…

here’s the last time I re-learned the filled bottoms. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/another-basket-underway/ 

two white oak baskets

Look what fell in my lap – a great white oak basket, from Kim L, via Martha. thanks to both.

basket from kim side

It’s a large, heavy-duty basket. All white oak. Some things about it remind me of the Taghkanic baskets from eastern New York. Very thick rims, large stout weavers and uprights. The bottom seems different from what I know about those baskets, but my knowledge is limited to the book Legend of the Bushwhacker Basket by Martha Wetherbee and Nathan Taylor. It’s about a foot high to the rim, and about 17″ in diameter. Here’s some views:

basket from kim top

basket from kim

The double-woven bottom is reinforced with added splints that are then slipped into the weaving on the sides of the basket. That might be why this basket is still around. Very tough.

basket from kim bottom

While we were out at Bill Coperthwaite’s place, I noticed a nice white oak basket there too. I got to look at this one with Louise Langsner, who made a slew of white oak baskets over the years, before switching to willow…this one seems to have had a lid that would have fit inside the small rim woven above the actual rim. It’s hard to see, but every upright has been split so the lashing can be very closely spaced.

white oak basket top

Here you see the bottom is filled in with extra splints. Makes me think sewing basket, or something like that. When a basket’s bottom is filled in like that, little things don’t get lost out the spaces in between the weaving.

white oak basket bottom

One of our stops on the mini-tour was Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine. We saw some Shaker ash baskets there, and a nice large round white oak one too, but no photography allowed. Drat.