Saturday, October 2, 2010

Underwater Basket Weaving, 102

I finally made it to the Jamesport Herritage Days Festival. I managed to finish 3 baskets, have a fourth almost complete, and a fifth started. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a grey and yucky day. By 10 AM it had started raining off and on, and by noon it was windy and raining pretty steady. So, after lunch, a lot of people packed up and left. I decided to go, too. I was asked to return next year and demo basket weaving again. This time I will have a year, rather than a month, to prepare! And, next year, I will know what I am doing and be able to set up better.

Here are some photos of the process:

It starts with cutting the willow branches from the tree. And managing not to fall into the pond!

Greg helps haul the branches back up to the house.

After clipping and stripping any useful vines, then identifying any branches that can be formed into handles or rims and shaping those, the willow is left to dry. After a few days of drying, I start a basic frame with a rim and either a handle or primary ribs. Next those get lashed into place with a soaked vine, or weaver. Then additional ribs are added in. The ribs are made from thicker stems of the willow, which have to be cut to length, have the ends whittled a bit, and then pushed into the frame of the basket. You continually add ribs throughout the weaving process.

Willow baskets are much more "artsy" and rustic-looking than baskets made with bought, pre-cut reed. Pre-cut reed can be forced into whatever shape you want it to take, but willow has a mind of its own. You really have to work with the shape it wants to take. The end result is always a bit of a surpeise! They may not be as "pretty" as the baskets made with bought reed, but they certainly have a charm of their own.

I just had this little table on which to display my work. At the back of the table I put some of my old baskets that I had made a few years ago with bought reed.

This was the basket I finished while at the festival, and next to it is the one I started "building". I had a few people stop to watch while I was weaving, but I actually had a lot more people stop and ask questions when I had finished that one and started "building" the next one. I thought that was very interesting. Next year, I will plan to do more building than weaving for my demonstrations!

And guess what! I got my picture in the local paper!