I was invited to teach a Ribbed Basket Workshop this September at the Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network, or BARN. This is giving me the opportunity to slow down a minute and extrapolate some of the things I know about working with plants. Sometimes I take for granted what I’ve learned, because it’s what I do everyday, and it isn’t any more important than what you, or others, do each day. But it’s funny to realize I have slipped into the realm of being an elder in this world, and there is a certain amount of responsibility that goes with that. There are lessons that plants share with us that can help us in ways we might not expect or imagine.
The bark peals off easily in the Springtime. Since these are small limbs I am saving the bark to make cordage which can be useful on it’s own or woven into a basket. If these were larger branches, the bark would likely be thick enough for making pouches or to be cut to size for weavers.
I’m using pealed wisteria vine for the two hoops that make up the handle and rim of the frame. I use a three point lashing made with wild blackberry vines. Even though I gathered these vines many seasons ago, they still have a sweet smell that is released as I work with the moistened vines. The first set of ribs are added once the vine lashing has created enough space for the tapered ends to be held securely. There is a certain amount of tension that holds the ribs in place.
After weaving in some cattail cordage which holds in the first set of ribs, enough new space has been created so that I can add the second set of ribs next to the first set. The larger the basket frame is the more times new sets of ribs will be added. For this little basket, I think 2 sets will do it.
I finished off the basket with English Ivy, Western Red Cedar, and more Ivy. I’m not certain that I’ll leave the Ivy roots on it, but I can decide that later.
It’s nice to warm up by starting with a smaller basket, just to help me remember what I might have forgotten since I last made one like this. But now it’s time to get busy and finish up the rest of these frames.
Happy Spring to you!