Friday, August 19, 2011

Ribbed Basketry Tuturial: Part 1

Ribbed Basket

Over the next few posts I'm going to offer a ribbed basket tutorial. I also have this tutorial available in a pdf format and I will post that once I figure all that out so that you will be able to print your own copy either with or without color photos.

This particular tutorial will have 3 parts. The first part is this one and it will cover a little history, what you need to make this basket, and some information on suppliers. Part 2 will cover gathering materials in the wild and dying your own material. And finally Part 3 will cover basic construction of the basket. Hopefully in the future I'll be able to add some videos and more information on dying and gathering. I hope you enjoy it... and PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

This is the tutorial I'm using to teach my basketry class and I would love to hear any feedback so that I can make the classes I'm teaching in September as good as I possibly can.


About this Basket

The ribbed basket is thought to have been created by ancient Celts in Scotland, but similar baskets can be seen around the world. Settlers from the British Isles to the New World brought this style of basketry with them and with them it traveled west. This style was taught to me as the Appalachian Buttocks basket (it is a funny name I know) but its other regional names include the melon basket, peanut basket, egg basket, or fanny basket just to name a few. As the names buttock or fanny imply, it can be made with a twin bottom design (making it look like a fanny) or you can make it with a flat bottom.

Basic Construction

The basket that we are going to make today uses two hoops (we will use grapevine) that are attached together at right angles. They are lashed together by making a god's eye. Once the god's eye is made, the ribs (you can either use more grapevine or round reed) will be tucked into the god's eye and then you begin to weave using a flexible material like raffia, jute or sea grass.

Gathering Materials

Basic Supplies:

Before you begin you will need to gather some basic supplies.

  1. Two hoops-we will use grapevine... but there are many other choices. You can order hoops from basketry supply shops or gather your own material that is strong and yet flexible enough to form hoops. There are many books and online sources that offer ideas for gathering and selecting the right materials for you.

  2. Ribs- we will be using round reed (size #6). You can also just make your ribs out of grapevine... but it is a bit trickier to get started this way. Reed is more uniform and works better for beginners.

  3. Weavers- We will be using jute, sea grass, raffia and possibly some flat reed... but there are many other options. You can add color or interest to the texture of your basket by using yarns or interesting gathered materials. You can really use your imagination when you pick out your weavers.

  4. Basic Tools: scissors or pruners (to cut reed and vine), knife, buckets (for soaking). You might also want clothes pins or bread ties. Some optional tools would be a tapestry needle and a tape measure but I don't use those much for this style of basket. There are a wide variety of other materials you might want to invest in if you get serious about basketry... but I've found that most of the tools I use are things that I have around the house already. I like to keep it simple.


If you use grapevine for your basket's ribs you can purchase everything that you need for this basket at Hobby Lobby. Micheal's craft store stocks grapevine, hemp, and raffia, but I have been unable to find jute, and I like to use jute as my all purpose weaver for this basket. Hill Country Weavers in Austin also stocks basketry supplies, but I am unfamiliar with their inventory. If you want reed, sea grass or other supplies then Royalwood and Earth Guild are both suppliers that I've used in the past. I'm sure there are other options out there that can be discovered with the simple click of a mouse. Shop around and look for deals... and if you find a supplier in your area let me know.

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