By: Francesca Fiori
Weaving baskets is an art form which can be found throughout history and which is always being expanded upon. It is a process which involves vegetable fibers that are not spun and weaving them into baskets or similar objects.
The materials used in basketry are fibrous and/or very bendable so they can be used to form a shape such as a round basket. Examples of some materials used in this art form include: grasses, pine needles, stems, hide, animal hair and thread. There are four types of basketry which include: plaiting (utilizes wide, ribbon-like materials such as palms); splint and wicker (which utilize willow, oak, ash, cane or reed); coiled (usually utilize rushes and grasses); and twining (utilizes tree bark and root materials).
The process of weaving a basket involves typical parts which include: a base, side walls, and a rim. Some optional basket parts include: embellishments, lids or handles. Typically the process begins with the base of the basket. The basket base can be wooden or woven with reed. Wooden bases are available in many different shapes which allow the weaver to create many different basket shapes. The first pieces to be laid down are “static” pieces which are in fixed positions. Static pieces in a round basket are called “spokes” whereas they are called “staves” or “stakes” when they are part of other shape baskets. Finally the basket sides are filled in with “weavers.” There are many different patterns for basket weaving that can be created merely by altering the color, size or style of weave placement. Aboriginal basket weavers are able get a multi-colored effect by simply dying the twine first and then weaving the colored twines together. This can produce stunningly beautiful results.
Long ago baskets were created for a specific purpose. They were necessary to transport goods and were used for storage. Today baskets are often considered decorative items. Since baskets have been made throughout the years from natural materials which decay and are perishable, the history of basket weaving is not exact but instead surmised. Through the process of carbon dating the oldest baskets found are believed to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years of age. They were discovered in Faiyum which is located in upper Egypt. Baskets have also been found in the Middle East which are believed to be as old as 7,000 years. Baskets were very necessary items during the Industrial Revolution where they were used in factories for both deliveries and packaging purposes. The Victorian era found wicker furniture to be very fashionable items. During the World Wars baskets were very useful and important items for transporting pigeons. Other interesting examples of how baskets were used during this time period include: to hold shell cases; to place food and ammunition supplies in to drop them to troops; and as balloon baskets for observation. Aboriginal and native tribes as well as indigenous peoples are very well-known for the various techniques they use to weave baskets. They used baskets for religious ceremonies and to trade for goods.
The following links will help to explain everything you want and need to know about the art of basket weaving. There is also a link section devoted to children and basket weaving type crafts.
Basket Weaving for Kids