When someone says basket weaving, the image that comes to mind is usually that of an arachnid looking female hand weaving a basket of flowers out of yarn. However, even without the image of an arachnid, basket weaving is a craft that has been practiced throughout human history. In fact, the early Chinese were some of the first to develop basket weaving as a commercial activity. While the symbolism of the basket may have changed over the years, the purpose has remained the same: to transport food from one place to another.
A basket is typically a small container that is made of stiff plant fibers and is made from a wide range of natural materials, such as wood, wicker, runner, and straw. While most baskets are crafted from natural plant fibers, other synthetic materials like metal wire, horsehair, or baleen can also be used. However, the most common raw materials for basket-making are plant fibers, animal hairs, and other raw materials. Raw materials are typically prepared in different ways depending on the intended purpose of the basket.
There are several types of baskets: pottery baskets, wicker baskets, gourds, and reed baskets. Each type of basket-making technique varies based on the desired outcome. For example, in order to make a simple pottery basket, the fibers from the plant material should be woven tightly together with minimal overlapping, then the potter will knot the fibers together to form the basket-like material. On the other hand, to make a gourd basket, the plant fibers are cut into strips and woven closely to form a tight rope-like material.
Once the basket-making process is complete, the finished product is then ready for display or use. If the wicker baskets are displayed, they are usually kept in a wooden frame to allow for proper air circulation. The same is true for other baskets such as gourds, reeds, baskets, etc. Woven baskets can also be placed in baskets, chests, drawers, and other containers.
Some of the most popular basket-making techniques include basket-weaving (weaving the same fibers together), ribbon weaving, and basket-praising (praising a basket full of goodies). In basket-making, weavers first gather the desired number of plant fibers for the weaving process. Then, they carefully tie one end of the chosen fiber to a spool (a tiny wooden handle), while they continue to weave the other end of the fibers to form a handle-like material called spokes.
When the desired length of the spool is made, it is further divided into two equal sections by a skilled weaver. From the two sections of the spool, weavers can now form the desired size of basket by dividing the area into uneven thirds and knitting those areas with yarns. Then, the weft is pulled through the spokes, pulled taut, and finally, tightly knitted into a basket. The finished basket, called a skewer, is then carefully attached to a handle and passed from weavers to weavers’ partners.