Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 1 of Tutorial for making a basketry hot air balloon

Cut nine pieces of cane 8" long. Soak them. Cut 36 pieces of cane 20" long. Remove the nine from the water and place these to soak. Add several long pieces of finer cane to soak too. These will be the weavers. Pierce five of the 8" pieces at their mid-point with an awl or bodkin. Have all the pieces oriented the same way with their natural curve.

Take the other four 8" pieces and thread them through the five, allowing the natural curve to let them sit as shown. On one side of the cross use the awl to make space for the ends of two of the finer weavers.

Weave three rounds of twining weave around the cross shape, packing it as tightly as you can.

Begin to separate the spokes with the twining weave on the fourth round. Where there are four stakes, separate into pairs, where there are five, separate into a pair, a single and a pair. Weave three more rounds and then separate into singles. Continue weaving until you reach the ends of the stakes. Insert the two weavers into the weaving. Then trim of the ends.

To mould this shape, I wove on my lap, bending the stakes as I wove. I then used an awl to piece the top of the balloon's dome so I could insert a bolt to hold the ceraminc knob I chose for this basket.

I then took the 36 20" stakes and inserted them as far as possible into the dome placing two at each stake end. I then placed the dome upside down on a pyrex jug, and gave it some stability by placing a weight, a rock, inside it.

To help mould the balloon shape, I tied a string around the stakes. I then wove five rows of three rod waling both to add structural strength to the design but also to give some textural variation to the weave.

The last stage in Day 1 was the weave an arrow pattern using three rod waling and reverse three rod waling. For this I added colour. One weaver was red, a second white and the third blue. I wove one round of three rod waling, weaving over two, behind one and out.

I finished the first row and cut off the ends.

For the next row of reverse waling, I began at a different place placing the red weaver over a red weaver in the row below, the white over the white and the blue over the blue. To weave I took each weaver under two behind one and out instead of over two behind one and out. I checked as I went along that the arrow pattern was being formed.

I wove a total of six rows for the arrow weave alternating waling and reverse waling.
This took around two hours to this stage.


  1. John this is great. I've had inquiries about a hot air balloon basket and I've been sending people your way.
    Have a great evening,

  2. I agree with Nancy! I'm so excited about this series! I'm a big fan of your hot air balloon baskets! Thanks!!!