Basketry is the art or process of making baskets. Our basketry site features all types of useful information on this craft.
Click the link for over 40 free basket patterns and projects.
I’ve always been drawn to the art of basket weaving, though I’m sorry to say that I’ve only completed two baskets; one was at a summer camp when I was in elementary school and the other as a frugal college student who decided to make Christmas gifts one year.
My grandfather caned chair seats, and he taught me that skill. I did cane many chairs, always on the hunt for antique chairs sold at a low price because the caned seat was broken or missing.
The weaving of the reeds made for caning reminded me of Native American basket weaving, and I found the act meditative.
Fast forward to motherhood. With two daughters who enjoyed crafting camps and art classes, I was able to witness their basket making skills.
A little wobbly and crooked, but lovely to me nonetheless! Neither of them took up the art after their first baskets either.
One day I’m going to jump in and make another basket as an adult, especially after all of the information and research for this page!
There is so much to share with you about basket weaving.
Start by reading this page to learn about traditional basket weaving, including Native American basket weaving, and then check out everything we’ve put together just for you.
From beginner to intermediate weavers, there is sure to be something that you will all find interesting and helpful as you enjoy the ancient art.
We even have links to basketry supplies and basket makers’ catalogs!
The Wicker Woman site is a great place to learn more too.
It is very difficult to say just how old the art of basket weaving is. The natural materials that would have been used quickly decay.
It appears that when trying to determine the history of basket making, it is mostly speculation. However, when looking at any ancient civilization, basket making is one of the widest spread crafts.
The oldest baskets that have been revealed are carbon dated between 10,000 to 12,000 year old. That is even earlier than excavated pottery. These baskets were discovered in upper Egypt.
There have been signs of basketry in many regions, by evidence of the baskets imprinted on pieces of clay pots, where the pots were formed by packing clay on the woven baskets and then fired.
We surely don’t need to go into all of the history of basket making, but suffice it to say that evidence has been found in the Middle East, South Asia (bamboo), East Asia (bamboo, hemp palm), Southeast Asia (bamboo, grass, banana, reeds, and trees), Polynesia (coconut fiber, hibiscus fiber, New Zealand flax), and Australia (sedge grasses).
Basketry evidence was also found in Native American Arctic and subarctic regions (sea grasses, whale bone and walrus ivory), and the Native American regions below:
Northeastern (swamp ash, sweet grass, and birch bark), Native American Southeastern (split river cane), Northwestern (spruce root, cedar bark, and swamp grass), Californian and Great Basin (sumac, yucca, willow, and basket rush), Southwestern and Mexico (limberbush plant).
Basketry was passed down from generation to generation; however, with the industrial revolution came items that replaced the baskets, such as bags. Basket making was no longer a necessity.
Today, basket weaving is a high interest hobby that is enjoyed for both home decor and personal gift giving.
Basket weaving is an ancient craft that uses natural materials and some basic tools.
There are only a few simple tools needed in basket weaving:
- Strong scissors and a sharp knife for cutting and pointing the osiers (young willow shoots)
- Side cutters are helpful for chipping off the ends
- Round-nosed pliers are very helpful for kinking the stakes before you bend them
- Bodkin, which is a pointed metal tool with a wooden handle, to make space between the weaving and pushing rods in place
Some other items that you might find helpful are clothes pins to hold your work in place, a measuring tape, and perhaps a waterproof table covering, as you will need to keep the reeds wet.
Your Natural Art
“Nature is a constant source of inspiration”, writes Begot in the book, Basket Weaving for Beginners.
This ancient craft has used materials that are found growing in nature. There is something so special to me about using natural elements in my crafting.
I once enjoyed the art of wreath making, collecting my grape vines from the woods behind my parents’ house. Look at a video on making a basket out of grape vines!
Keep in mind though, that most craft stores do carry synthetic cane which can be used instead of the natural cane.
This material does not need to be kept wet in order for it to stay pliable, which for some might be a big plus.
Please enjoy your time looking through this page; we have basket making books, links to catalogs of supplies, and of course some wonderful tutorials on basket weaving.
I just know your results will be stunning!!!