Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ribbed Basketry Tutorial: Part 2

Here is part two of my Ribbed Basket Tutorial. You can find part one here. I will have the final installment out soon.

I will also have a pdf download (both with an without photos) that will cover the same material that will be available as soon as I figure out how to make it happen.

I have also been experimenting with dyes and I will have a post soon about that. I hope you enjoy it.


Ribbed Basketry Tutorial: Part 2

Going Native... Gathering in the Wild:

You can also opt to gather some or all of your materials in the wild, vines for example. Grapevine is everywhere around here and with a little asking around I'm sure you can find someone willing to let you collect some if you don't have it in your own backyard. Honeysuckle is also easy to find, and since it grows so fast you can usually find a bit that needs pruning. Honeysuckle is smaller than grapevine and makes good weavers. Other woody vines include Virginia creeper, bittersweet, coralberry, and wisteria. But I have never gathered these in the wild and don't have a lot of experience with identification and where to find them. It is usually best to gather woody vines in the winter before the sap begins to run. The vines aren't very pliable at this time, however, so you might want to gather them in early spring or in the fall. In the summer time they will be full of grapes so this is probably not the best time. With grapevine the newer vines are best used for weavers while the woodier older parts are good for ribs, rims and handles.

You can weave with freshly cut vines and it might be easier in some ways since they are flexible at this time, but you have to remember that as they dry they shrink, so weave loosely. Another way to do it is to cut off extra leaves and limbs, coil your vines, allow them to dry, and then re-wet or soak them before use.

Other natural materials you might like to gather are cattails, rushes, grasses, fronds, bark, and different types of cactus (not the spiny kind but those similar to the century plant). My advice is to gather these materials, dry them, and then experiment with them. There is such a variety of advice out there on preparation that like most hobbies most of the fun is in the discovery. Just make sure to use common sense and gather materials safely... and make sure that you have permission of the landowner, park management, or proper authorities before beginning. Some materials also might cause skin irritation. Virginia Creeper, for example, causes skin rashes on some people. So when in doubt wear gloves. This will also protect you from thorns and bugs.

Preparing Materials


Dyes are an excellent way to add variety to your materials. There are many commercial dyes out there. The easiest one to get is RIT and it is very inexpensive. It can be purchased at most grocery stores and it does a pretty good job. The only problem with it is that it tends to fade with time. There are many other commercial dyes and stains available. I don't have much experience with them, but with a little research you can find the best dye for your needs.

The other option is natural dyes. There are many online resources and books about ways to naturally dye your reed or jute. I've experimented with a few and will provide a separate entry about how to achieve different colors with things you can find in your kitchen, garden, or somewhere in your local area. Just remember natural dyes fade... So keep that basket out of the sun.


Reed and Grapevine will need to be soaked in order to make them pliable. If you purchase grapevine you will need to soak the wreath in order to break it down in to usable rounds. After that is done, however, you no longer need to keep it wet. If you are using the smaller vines for weaving they will need to be soaked as well. If you are using reed or honeysuckle for weavers you will need to soak them long enough so that they can be wrapped around your finger easily. You don't want to soak materials to the point of being waterlogged... just soak them long enough to make them pliable. After that remove them from the water and keep them in a damp towel or keep a spray bottle nearby and occasionally mist them.

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