Weaving Baskets…some progress

Nantucket purse (cherry), and small ebony Nantucket basket, both in progress


















I now have four basket projects in varying stages.  I need so much hand holding to make any progress that I fear none of these baskets will actually be finished any time soon.  Still, slowly, I’m learning a few things.

Here is one gem I  learned this week from my basket guru/teacher.  At home this month I had started weaving the ‘straight away’ on my Nantucket purse (on right in photo), and one quadrant of staves had begun to go off on an angle.  It was quite unsightly, drawing my eye right to the asymmetry of the weaving.  I was yanking hard to straighten those particular staves every time I came to that section of the basket, but it was not improving!  So I put the basket aside to wait for help from my teacher.  I thought she would tell me to un-weave, but she had a different suggestion!

It turns out I should never leave the basket ‘au naturel’ while I’m not working on it.  When I put it aside for any amount of time I should spray the staves with water, put on the heavy rubber bands, and then position all the staves as best I can.  The next time I weave those staves should stay straight, or certainly straighter.  At the end of weaving I spray and re-band for the next time.  It works!  I’m thrilled that I didn’t have to un-weave anything and that I’ve managed to keep the staves straighter now.  It’s certainly not a perfect basket, but I am happy with it!

I finished lashing on the rim of the  tiny Nantucket, but the day came to an end before I could attach the handle. Sigh... Why does time go so quickly at our monthly basket workshops?  I have the handle hardware assembled and waiting to be attached.  I don’t want to peen the handle rivets without some hand holding, so I just have to wait ’til June.

Lastly, I will spend some time this month shaping about 120 staves for a larger round Nantucket basket that I hope to weave while sailing in Maine this summer.  It occurred to me that weaving a basket could be a wonderful boat project.  However, due to my inexperience and lack of confidence, I want to have all the staves shaped and steam bent and in place around the base of the mold before I head off into the sunset to weave it by myself! I’ll start working on those staves today.

10" round Nantucket mold and "Japanese Wave Weave" covered vase













(Basket #4 is languishing, waiting for its rim.  It’s the tall cylinder that is a glass vase enclosed in basketry, woven with cane, waxed linen and beads in a pattern called Japanese Wave Weave.)

I really thank my stars that I have such a great teacher!

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