Sunday, August 15, 2010

The "tools" used in making a custom order bread basket.

Yesterday, I received a custom order to make two bread baskets with liners. One is to be round as shown in the photo here. The second is to be elongated and suitable for a baguette. Each has to be a particular size, and decorated with particular colours. This one had to have light blue colour bands as well as a band of Tamarack bark. Anne will purchase some linen from which to make the liner for this and the other one I will make later this week.

"Tools" needed to make such a basket include the plastic tote shown here in which to soak the cane. The waste basket by its side is one of the earliest baskets I ever made. I use it to collect the cut-off ends of the cane as I weave.

Unlike many basket weavers, I weave at a table. When we visited a basket-making business in Somerset, the weavers sat on the floor and used a lap board on which to weave.

The remaining "tools" I used for this basket are shown here. Skeins of cane are essential, as is the half house brick. The latter is use as a weight that sits on the basket base as I weave the upsett. The scissors are used for cutting the cane into manageable lengths.
The awl or bodkin is used to pierce the beginning lengths of cane so that, in this case, I could thread five eight inch lengths of cane through four of similar length. The plastic foot ruler had two uses: as a protector of the table surface as I pierced the cane, and as a ruler to make sure I wove to the dimensions requested.

The red-handled snips were used to cut the lengths of cane I used for the stakes of the basket. Those snips can cut through a dozen or more pieces of cane at once. The blue-handled bead snips were used to trim all joins on the inside of the basket, to trim the spokes of the base before adding the stakes to that base, and to trim the ends of the border stakes.

The needle-nosed pliers were used to crush the fibres of the stakes before turning these to the vertical at the upsett stage of beginning to weave the sides. The cord was used to tie these upsett stakes together as the weaving of the sides began.

Last, but just as important as a tool, is the spray bottle used to keep the stakes damp enough to bend at the final stage of weaving, the weaving of the border.


  1. This is a really great post! I also weave at a table when I make straight-sided baskets, but I like to weave on my lap when I'm weaving rounded baskets. The curve of my lap seems to help shape the bottom of the work. Your spoke weight (half house brick) is totally cool! I use an old railroad tie, and it never fails to give people a laugh when I use it during demonstrations! :)

  2. Wow, such an interesting view into your world, I can't wait to see the basket finished:)