Basket Making for
Beginners; How to
Make a Basket from Willow, Reed, Cane
Basket making, or basketry, is an old traditional craft. Learn how to
make a basket today from cane with our easy, step-by-step instructions.
Making homemade baskets for beginners made easy.
Willow and Basket Making
for example is an ideal material that
can easily be bent and woven to form very strong baskets. It is
harvested in the winter when the sap is down, and is used with the bark
still on, and then left to dry.
all willow is good for basket
weaving as sometimes it is very brittle and can snap as
with it. If you harvest your own willow you can test to see if it is
any good by bending it and testing its give. If it doesn't and snaps
then don't use it and look for willow that is more pliable.
Willow can also be used
without its bark. It
can be first soaked in water until the summer when it is then used
after the bark has been stripped.
For those of you who like
baskets to have that golden brown appearance the willow used here is
boiled first, and then stripped before used.
Cane and Basket Making
Willow is, of course, not
the only material
used for making baskets. One can also use imported materials like cane
which often comes from Indonesia. Unlike willow, which is thicker at
one end than the other, cane
is uniform in diameter from one end to the
other. This makes using cane easier for basketry and is the best
material for beginners to use when first starting off with
Basket Making and Storing Cane
If you are not going to use
immediately, store it stacked, not in coils as it makes it very
difficult to work with it later on. Also make sure that you store it in
under cool, dark and dry conditions.
Basket Making and Dyeing Cane
is a very porous material and as a result
it is very suitable for dyeing a variety of cheerful and interesting
colors. The most successful way to do this is to use fabric dye.
Basic Basket Making Tools
You do not
need expensive tools
start making baskets. Nor will you need a lot of tools to do the job.
You will need an awl for making holes for inserting the willow, cane or
reed, along with a good, sharp pair of secateurs for cutting. You will
use a pair of nose-pliers to pinch the reed where you want to bend it
at right-angles when making borders. If you don't squeeze it well, when
you try and bend it, it will split and break. You will need a tape
measure of ruler to measure your work. Finally, if you are working with
willow you will need a rapping iron that looks similar to a chisel, but
it is blunt and used for tapping down the willow weave into position.
Basic Basket Making
The easiest baskets to make
are those that
involve using flat reed
the stakes and round reed
Take 13 pieces of 3/4 inch
flat cane cut at 30
inches, and mark the centers of the flat can on the wrong side.
Now, form the bottom of the
inter-weaving the flat cane lengths in an under, over pattern with 7
pieces being laid on one direction and 6 pieces laid in the other,
making sure that the wrong side is facing up. As you are weaving the 6
pieces, make sure that you insert your wooden handle in the middle of
these, so that there are three lengths either side. The handle size
ideally should be an 8"x12" D shaped handle with a flat base.
Adjust the weaved pieces on
the base to fit
8"x8". Mark these with a pencil so that you know where the boundaries
are. Now take a number 2 round reed and weave it in and around the
whole base twice to keep it in place. Treat the handle as part of the
stakes and hide the twining's ends in between the inter-woven stakes.
Making sure that the stakes
are very damp,
gently bring them up into an upright position. Now, using a
start-and-stop weave, and using 2 pieces of 1/2 inch round reed cut at
11 inches in length, keep the stakes in an upright position. All
weaving now should be showing the right side.
For those of you who are
unfamiliar with the
is when you stagger the start of each
row from the start of the last row. Finish the row by overlapping the
same weave to the third stave after the start. Overlap the finish of
each weave on the outside of the start.
An example of start-and-stop weaving
in basket making
Using 24 pieces of
flat-oval reed cut at 38
inches in length, now continue weaving in and out and building your
basket. If you have a handle that tapers at the sides, you will have to
keep the weaving very tight as you use less and less of the cane
lengths as you build your basket. Just make sure that you do this after
the first 2 rows, otherwise you will end up with a skew basket!
You may have to start
shaving a little off the
sides of the stakes as you build past 15 rows so that you go from a
3/4" stake down to a 1/2" stake. You can do this with a pair of
secateurs, adjusting the width of the stakes accordingly.
To make your basket more
interesting you can
add a different color now, 3 rows of brown or blue look good using 1/4
inch flat-oval reed using the same reed color twice. And then add
another 3 rows of natural 1/4 inch flat-oval reed as below the dyed
Now it is time to tidy up
and put on the rim.
Cut the stakes so that they are still long enough to fold over and tuck
down into the several layers of weave so that they hold themselves in
place. This prevents the last row of weave from unraveling and also
allows a secure edge to lash the rim to.
A common rim is made by
encircling the last
wall weave with two reeds or splits, each placed on either side, with
the stakes in the middle. This is then lashed and fastened to the
This is done by taking 8
inches of 5 mm binder
cane making sure that is damp and supple and lash the rim to the
basket. When you come to the handles go around them in a cross-stitch X
pattern to strengthen this area. Remember to do this both sides and
make sure that the shiny sides are facing upwards.
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