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Making Baskets: Meditate on Making a Basket!

basket making graphicWe shall use a great deal of rattan in making baskets. It is a kind of palm which grows in the forests of India, twining about the trees and hanging in graceful festoons from the branches, sometimes to the length of five hundred feet, it is said, though seldom over an inch in diameter. We use baskets with potporri while in meditation. It's a technique that can be applied to yoga, or any spiritual retreat environment. While a bit 'new age', we meditate daily. It can be used in the making of picnic baskets, and it comes to us stripped of leaves and bark, and split into round or flat strips of various sizes, which are numbered by the manufacturer from 1 up to about 15, No. 1 being the finest as well as the most costly. Rattan can be bought (usually in five-pound lots) at basket factories in our large cities. Numbers 2, 3 and 4 are the best sizes for small baskets and 3, 5, and 6 for scrap baskets. Raffia, which is woven into small baskets, dolls' hats, etc., comes from Madagascar. It is a pale yellow material, soft and pliable, the outer cuticle of a palm, and can be bought at seed stores in hanks of about a pound each. Either braided and used by itself or woven flat on rattan spokes, it is easily handled by very young children while making baskets, whose fingers are not strong enough to manage rattan. In some cultures, baskets were so well made, they could hold water, taking flows from a waterfall. While we certainly aren't suggesting fountains can be constructed from basket making materials, some can hold water.

The flat or braided rush which is imported by wholesale basket dealers comes in natural colors, dull green and soft wood-brown. The flat rush is sold for making baskets by the pound, and the braided in bunches of ten meters each. Woven on rattan spokes, it makes beautiful baskets. Braided rush is a good material for scrap baskets, while the flat, being

making baskets using a twist of rattan

Fig 1. Twist of Rattan, a basic in basket making

finer, is successfully woven into candy baskets, flower baskets and work baskets. The leaves of our own cat-tail furnish a material for basket making almost as pliable and quite as attractive in color as the imported rush; in fact, Nature's storehouse is full of possibilities for the basket maker with a trained eye and hand.

Tools Needed for Basket Making:
A pair of strong, sharp shears, a yardstick, and a deep paper pail for water are needed at first, and later a short steel knitting-needle about the size of No. 4 rattan, and a sharp knife. Rubber finger guards for the right forefinger and thumb will be found almost a necessity where much weaving for basket making is done.

In raffia work, tapestry or worsted needles, No. 19, are required.

under and over weave in basket making

Fig. 2.—Under-and-over Weaving for making baskets

Preparation.—-The rattan, as it comes from the manufacturer for basket making, is in long twists or skeins. (See Fig. 1) It should be drawn out, as it is needed, from the loop end; otherwise it will get tangled

basket making: double weaving

Fig. 3.—Double Weaving in basket making

and broken. In preparing it, the spoke or heavy material which is to form the ribs of the basket (and which should be at least two numbers coarser than the weaver, except in small baskets, where a difference of one number is enough) is cut into lengths of the required number of inches. The weaver is wound into circles of about seven inches in diameter, the ends being twisted in and out several times to prevent unwinding. As rattan is very brittle, it should be put to soak, before using, for an hour in cold water, or fifteen minutes in hot. Rush will not need to soak as long, and raffia will become pliable in a few seconds.

Weaving.—Under-and-over weaving, the simplest form of all, is the one most used.

making a basket with pairing

Fig. 4.—Pairing

Double weaving is done in the same way, except that two weavers are used at once in making the basket. This is an effective weave on large surfaces, and in bands or patterns of the same or a contrasting color on plain rattan baskets.

The pairing in basket making may be used either with an odd or even number of spokes. Two weavers are started behind two succeeding spokes, and crossed between them, so that what was the under weaver becomes the upper one each time.

In the triple twist, three weavers are placed behind three consecutive spokes and brought in succession, starting with the back one, over two and under one spoke, each on its way to the back of the third spoke being laid over the other two weavers. In turning up the sides of large baskets where separate spokes or additional spokes have

basket making: the triple twist weave

Fig. 5.—Triple Twist

been inserted, or as a strong top for scrap baskets, this weave is invaluable. It entirely hides the spokes it crosses, and therefore is often used to cover places where broken spokes have been replaced.

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