Seeing as I am currently immersed in weaving for my OCA course, and think about little else at the moment, yesterday I attended a basket weaving one day workshop.
Entitled ‘The Basics of Basket Weaving’, with Meri Peach as the tutor, we concentrated on creating a coiled basket with spiral stitch. Although Meri uses a variety of materials to weave including mixed plant fibres, plastics, wire, foil, cabling, cling wrap, raffia, rattan cane and more we concentrated solely on plant fibres.
She had a wide range of finished samples (as per these two photos) and numerous books to show us with some truly stunning works displayed in them. Her website shows many of her larger and more adventurous pieces. However, we were content to gaze at the smaller, simpler and – we hoped – more achievable projects.
I didn’t do step by step photos as I was way too engrossed in what I was doing and determined to finish my small piece by the end of the day.
I was very surprised how green everything still was even though it had been sitting drying for quite a while. You can see from my basket here that the colours really are still very green and vibrant, where as her samples above have dried and lightened to lovely golden-yellow/greens.
It was a terrific day and I learned a lot. It was quite hard on the hands (and neck) as it is necessary to maintain tension on both the fibres and the waxed linen thread to keep the shaping and the firmness of the stitching. With most creative pursuits it is the start point which is the challenge and this was no different but once we moved to turning a larger circumference it became a little easier and we were able to add different materials to create patterns – I use the word ‘pattern’ here quite loosely, perhaps I should say stripes instead.
Here are some of the finished baskets, all so different. Even the coloured thread used to stitch them gives each one a very unique look. I went with a coppery brown linen which I hoped would blend into my plant colouration but some of the others used bright red and yellow thread which has made more of a feature of the stitching. This is probably not something that I would take up as a craft myself at home as there is quite a lot of preparation, I’m not the best authority on plant material and my hands and neck wouldn’t stand up to repeatedly working in this manner but I would attend another workshop because it was very enjoyable and the results ………. well, my end result can at least be vaguely recognised as a basket.
I’m not sure the technique we used would strictly be classed as weaving but there is a definite vertical and horizontal aspect to the construction, a type of warp and weft I suppose.
Some materials we incorporated:
Muehlenbeckia Axillaris (Lignum)
Dianella Tasmanica (Flax Lily)
Lomandra Longifolia (Mat Rush)
Kniphofia Sp. (Red Hot Poker)
Raphia Sp. (Raffia)
Go to http://www.sharkchic.com.au/Basketry.html to view Meri’s work.