Basic Guide to DIY Basket Making

Basic Guide to DIY Basket Making

Emily Smith
Jul 26, 2011

I come across so many beautiful baskets in stores that I forget these items are often handmade. With a little bit of practice and patience, it's not so hard... as long as you start small. After all, they don't joke about bird courses as 'basket weaving' courses for nothing! I recommend preparing your materials (find local materials, then dry and soak them), then weaving them into small shapes or flat mats. I've put together a list of tutorials and general rules of thumb below to keep in mind when collecting your materials and putting your baskets together.

At its basic form, weaving is the process of weaving unspun vegetable fibers in to a basket or other similar form.

What You Will Need:
Basket Weaving does not require many tools, but here are a few basics.

  • A shop knife
  • A pair of secateurs
  • Maybe an Awl

Materials that Work:
Test out any material beforehand. Some materials, even though listed here, can be too brittle and will snap when bent to extremes. A good rule of thumb is to kink a stem of willow sharply to 90 degrees or more. If it snaps, it's not flexible enough for basketry.

Try googling any invasive species in your area to find materials that you can pick and make into objects or baskets for around your home. There are lots of other materials that work, depending on the general climate of your location. Once you collect your materials, dry and then soak them. Some materials are filled with sap and will shrink and become loose later on.

More Tips:
I find that I do a lot of my best learning on many DIY projects with others. So, if you can find a group of friends interested in learning (or better yet, you have a friend with some knowledge on basket-weaving) you can band together to provide moral support and/or instruction. I also recommend borrowing books from the library and reading up on different basket-making techniques to find one that interests you the most. Look for books with lots of photographs, it's much easier to use them as a guide. I also recommend starting small with a basic project in mind so that you don't get over-ambitious and become frustrated with the whole project.

Great Online Tutorials and Resources:

  • This is the best tutorial I've found on the internet. It has really clear imagery and explains the steps very clearly.
  • This is also a good tutorial on how to make a flat basket table mat for practice.
  • Here is a list of FAQs for basket-making.
  • This eHow is a good read for how to prepare your materials.
  • This is another great resource on different types of weaves, including coiled, plaited, single and double-twined.

Have you ever indulged in this ancient art of basketweaving before? If so, please share any tips or experiences below.

(Images: Jon's Bushcraft)

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