Monday, June 10, 2013

Making a basket using willow bark for weavers

 This small basket is made with an oak circular rim, round cane ribs and flat rattan cane God's eyes to tie the ribs to the oak rim. It is the first basket I have made with three point lashing to tie the rim and ribs together. The weavers are from willow bark, strengthened after weaving with the addition of a varnish coating.

 The weavers are made from willow bark stripped from the willow whips in the springtime just after the first flush of leaves appear. In previous years as I stripped the willow I discarded the willow bark as being of no value to me. However, a memory of a visit to Vancouver a few years ago told me I could use that stripped willow. There I visited a native craft shop and was intrigued by a small basket. I could not identify the material from which its weavers were made. "What is this material?"I asked. "Willow bark," was the answer after an investigation by the clerk.
 This spring I decided to see if I could weave with willow bark too. Last fall, as I stripped the bark off the grapevine I was harvesting, I put that bark on one side. While I was able to weave with it, I found that over 90% of the grapevine bark was too short to be of value. Would the willow bark be similar in so much wastage? Fortunately perhaps 50% of the willow bark proved to be usable.
In the photo above you can see the God's eye of rattan cane and the beginning of the willow bark weavers around the rattan cane ribs and oak rim.

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