I am enchanted with handmade things. I identify a soulfulness with objects that are crafted as a labour of love. One group of objects that I am particularly drawn to are baskets. These beautiful and utilitarian vessels have a way of warming my heart. There is something about their simple forms and modest materiality that is reminiscent of a slower, more peaceful time. I love wicker baskets, straw baskets, cane baskets, wild baskets, wonky baskets, long baskets, tall baskets, handled baskets or open baskets...you get the picture. As long as it is handmade, I'm pretty much easily seduced by its charms. So, last year I thought it was about time I started to learn the art of basket making for myself.
You know how when you look at a craft from the outside, having never tried it, it appears really mysterious and difficult? Yeah, well that's what I thought of basket weaving. I had this idea that it was going to be very tricky and fiddly and that I'd have to learn all of these intricate steps. Turns out I was wrong and that basket weaving is, for the most part, a relatively easy craft to learn! Now, that is not to say that it isn't time consuming. A woven raffia basket can take me several sessions to finish. Still, the more I create, the faster I get, so that might change over time.
I took one three hour class in wild basket weaving using natural materials a year ago and was instantly hooked. In those three hours I created two small baskets from local invasive vines and it felt good to wrangle those unruly plants into useful objects. After that class I started watching youtube videos on various weaving techniques and one of my favourites is weaving with raffia. For over 6 months now I've been weaving baskets with raffia and other natural fibres and have amassed quite a collection of vessels of various shapes and sizes. I love spending time repetitively inserting the needle and thread between layers of papery grasses. It feels like I am participating in a ritual of making that has been going on for thousands and thousands of years. And it is true, because basket weaving hasn't really changed all that much over time. Sometimes at night, whilst I am weaving a vessel in front of Netflix, I imagine a woman seated in the same position as me in front of a fire, centuries ago. I think of my ancestors, of the journey through time that brought forth my existence.
Crafts like basket weaving really do connect us to the past and the best thing is that the resulting objects are still very useful in today's world! If you've ever had a hankering to try basket weaving I would strongly encourage you to try, it's a lovely way to while away the time lost in your own thoughts and you'll create beautiful vessels to boot!
I've posted a few of my baskets for sale in my ETSY STORE.