another basket underway


I’m having so much fun working at making ash baskets lately, in preparation for the upcoming class at Plymouth CRAFT – 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

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…



baskets continued

Basket bottoms. Two of our household baskests; c. 1987-90. The one on the left is a standard item; square bottom, round top. Ash with hickory rims; hickory bark lashing. The one on the right is our colored-pencil basket. Gets lots of use. A rectangular basket, all ash, rims either oak or hickory.

2 baskets

Here’s the bottom of the square one. Typical weave, resulting in openings between the uprights. Probably most splint baskets are like this.

open bottom

Here’s what I call a “filled” bottom – thin and narrow filler strips woven between the uprights.

filled bottom


The filled bottoms of baskets are made a few different ways. One is to make a round basket, with “spokes” laid out to form the bottom and sides. I do these with 16 uprights; laid out in 2 batches of 8 spokes. Here’s the underside of our laundry basket; showing this spoke bottom from below.

ash basket detail 2

Each upright, or spoke, is cut into an hourglass shape; so its middle section is narrower than its ends. This makes it easier to weave these things all close together. One spoke is cut in 2, down to the middle. This photo shows these first 8 pieces; the one my left hand is on has been cut down the middle to make an odd number of uprights.

first 8

I then take a thin, narrow weaver and start to weave these 8 pieces (9 really…) together.



Once the weaver makes a few trips around you get out to the point at which you can add in the next 8 pieces. I add these pieces one at a time, the weaver catches each one in turn and binds it to the section already woven. No need now to split one of these; things are up & running now. Around & around this goes, and you bend things upright after a certain point, to begin to form the basket’s shape.


setting in 2nd bottom


The other filled bottom is a rectangular (I guess it could be square too, but I always made then rectangles) bottom, with filler strips laid in between the uprights. In this case, there’s 3 different pieces to deal with – the short uprights, the long dittos, and the thinner filler strips. These are just a bit longer than the finished bottom of the basket. So I start with laying the long uprights down, with filler strips between them. Then alternate in the short uprights over & under the previous bits. It gets a little complictated – it’s like when I teach joinery and carving – now for 2 consecutive thoughts, and sometimes 3.

This photo shows the first 3 of each upright, with 2 narrow thin fillers between the long uprights (those that run across this photo horizontally) Then I add in each kind of splint in pairs, the longs/shorts/fillers- as the case might be. I always work out from the center. Easier to keep things even that way. Usually.



filled bottom

I’ve got the polished satin-y finish of the fillers inside the basket – they appear bright white in the photo. Remember, all this stuff is very wet as I weave it.

filled bottom 2

This is the finished laid-up bottom. Next is to tuck the filler strips in.

filled bottom before turning fillers up

I bend them back on themselves, and tuck them under the the 3rd upright -they have to go over the first two because of the weaving pattern. It just is. Then pull it tight, and trim it off just under the upright.

weaving fillers in

snipping fillers

I wove two bottoms like this, then piled up some weaving material; and will re-soak these and weave up the bodies next time I get the basket stuff out. Maybe tomorrow, it’s nice work for a hot day.


ready to weave filled bottom baskets