Saturday, April 9, 2011

Basketry - An ancient craft still very much alive

It's an art as ancient as man himself, practiced by many civilizations including the Egyptians, Indians, Eskimos and many other cultures. Handmade baskets were as common in the homes of our ancestors as was their daily bread, yet each design was as personal and unique as a fingerprint. They stored grain, transported goods from one village to another, stored corn for drying... and even today we serve bread in a basket at the dinner table.

So.... are you ready to try your hand at basket making? There are lots of different methods for making baskets, but you need to get started somewhere. Let's talk a little about two easy techniques... twining and coiling.

Twined Basketry -

This is one of the most ancient methods used for making baskets. You have to wonder where and when the first person learned this novel intertwining of fibers that enabled them to construct baskets and other containers (just like you wonder who was brave enough to eat the first artichoke). Like most crafts developed by ancient civilizations, twining used for baskets has continued in use over the centuries and even today is an essential part of living in some societies. And twining isn't just for baskets. You can make lovely accessories for the home... flower pots, plant holders, rugs and even lamps.

So, what is twining? It's a simple process where two or more cords called weft are twisted around each other between cords called the warp. By changing the direction of the twining techniques, a variety of patterns and designs can be made. How to Twine Baskets and Such by George Smith is a great Basketry tutorial from the 1970s. Using 5-ply Jute, 4-ply Sisal Tree Rope, Polypropylene and Mop Cord he covers five different twining weaves... each with the purpose of adding design and durability to the finished projects. Projects created as you learn twining include baskets, a rug, tote bag, lamp, pillow and more.

Coiling Method of Basket Weaving -

You'll find this method an easy one to master... and your works-in-progress will be infinitely "portable". It's adaptable to an endless variety of materials including strings, twines, crochet and macrame fibers, leather, wool, mohair, linen... just about anything you can imagine. Basket Magic by H. Trester is an excellent tutorial for coiled basketry with easy to understand illustrated instructions and some fantastic projects to make as you learn. Projects include Baskets, a Wall Hanging, a Belt and a Handbag.

Soooo.... what are you waiting for? Visit my store, Stone Hill Collectibles, and satisfy that Crafting urge. You know you want to!

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