Transforming grapevine branches into hoops for rib baskets
I was fortunate to see Ankaret Dean, master basket-maker, while at the pre-Christmas sale at Lansdowne Park. Ankaret is the person who showed me how to make rib baskets. I bemoaned the fact that I found it time consuming to remove the loose outer bark from grapevine branches. She told me it was easy if you soaked them first. She places her branches in a stream for a couple of days. My stream is my bath tub. Here the grapevine branches have been in soak for 36 hours. Since the weather today is frightful with freezing rain, I decided this morning was an ideal time to peel the loose bark from these branches.
Here that bark is collected. The tote was quite full when I finished.
The stripped branches are formed into hoops. The first two are shown here. I found the grapevine much easier to strip, as suggested by Ankaret. They were also much easier to form into round shapes in their soaked state.
By noon I had twenty-six "hoops". This is sufficient to form the frames for thirteen rib baskets. Lots of work remains! I am now waiting for spring and the first flush of leaves on the willow in my garden. Then I can strip that willow and have the white willow ribs for the baskets.