Twenty-five years ago Maribeth Woolsey thought it would be fun to make a basket, took a class, and never stopped. She shared some of her baskets with us during our February program.
Baskets come in all shapes and sizes and are made from many different types of materials. Maribeth told us the only limit is our imagination. She has used materials as diverse as scrapbooking paper and knitted and felted wool.
A more traditional material is rattan or reed. Rattan is a variety of palm resembling a vine. Most rattan comes from Indonesian rainforests and can be harvested sustainably. Rattan is also used to make furniture. For basketry the reed can be cut into different shapes and sizes including flat, flat oval, half round, and round. Each type has its own function.
Some baskets are free form. Others, such as Nantucket Lightship baskets, are made over a mold which is later removed and have a wooden base.
Maribeth used a variety of techniques and materials to weave these baskets.
Many cultures have a tradition of basketry that predates the use of pottery. Coiled baskets were made by Native Americans from flexible plant materials such as grasses, pine needles and corn husks. Some were woven tightly enough to hold water.
Other natural materials used to make baskets include willow, cedar bark, black ash, and grape vines. You may find plants growing in your back yard that could be used for making a basket!
Maribeth’s favorite basket is a multimedia rainstick. It was made from a cardboard tube and brads. Lead shot inside the tube falling through the brads make the sound of rain. She used a variety of materials to adorn the outside of her rainstick.
If these baskets have inspired you to give basketry a try, you are in luck. Maribeth is also the president of the Iowa Basket Weavers Guild which will be meeting at the Northeast Iowa Weavers and Spinners Guild in May. They are offering five classes, and members of our guild are invited to enroll. See the information below for details.