Fundamentals in Basketmaking

Basket making or basketry is the process of weaving pliable materials such as willow, cane or rush.

Baskets have been made for many centuries, probably even before any records started. Unlike pottery the material used to make baskets will have decomposed within a relatively short time, so it’s impossible to know exactly when they were first made.

Woven containers can be made from a variety of fibrous or pliable materials; anything that will bend to form a shape – and not break! Examples include pine, straw, stems, animal hair, hide, thread, and fine wooden splints.

Indigenous peoples are especially known for their basket-weaving techniques. They often trade their baskets for other goods or food, and may also use them for religious ceremonies. You can find many beautiful examples of ancient baskets which shows the makers were highly skilled craftsmen or women from their time.

Basketry can be classified into four types:


Using materials that are wide and braid-like palms

Wicker or Splint Basketry

This process uses wicker, Reed, Willow, Oak or Ash, where the material is woven in and out of radial uprights attached to a base to create the form.


Twining uses materials from roots and tree bark. It’s a weaving technique where two or more flexible weaving elements known as ‘weavers’ cross each other as they weave through the stiffer radial spokes.

Coiled Basketry

Coiling uses rope, grasses and rush. The baskets are made by coiling a bunch of the material around and round and tying with some kind of twine.

Before the advent of plastics baskets were used extensively throughout the world for carrying, picking, sorting, storing and transporting of goods. In the UK the willow growing and basket making industry was vast, particularly in the wetlands of Somerset and in eastern counties around Norfolk, with whole communities involved. We now have machines that strip willow, but originally the whole community, including the local children, would have been put to work stripping the bark from the willow. The industries are still there, but to a much lesser extent.

Other than the advent of plastic, world trade has enabled us now to buy baskets in enormous quantities from all over the world and we’ve seen a huge increase in the volume of imported baskets from the Far East.

Apart from a few companies of basket makers, most makers now work alone and probably supplement making with some teaching or demonstrating. Some have taken the craft into the world of art, making sculptures rather than traditional baskets.

It’s a very nice thing to do, to spend an hour or so turning a little bundle of some pliable material into a useful object. Very satisfying and there are lots of opportunities to take courses around the country.

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A Beginner’s Guide on How To Draw

fashion-figuresHave you ever thought how artists come up with the greatest drawings that leave you wishing you knew how to draw? Well most of them didn’t grow up drawing, they learnt the art of drawing. Whether you dream of becoming the next Pablo Picasso or are simply thinking of giving your own imagination a creative outlet, you can learn how to draw in three simple steps. Here, take a look.

Step 1: Start with a rough sketch

Beginners who wish to be great artists should start by drawing the simplest things from a rough sketch. For instance, if you are drawing a flower, don’t draw one petal at a time. You may end up drawing one section of the object and forgetting about the big picture. If you ignore sketching what you want to draw you may also end up running out of room or end up with an unattractive imbalanced picture.

When it comes to sketching, simply use light repeated strokes and loosen things up. You are bound to make mistakes but don’t mind about them. This is simply putting a general idea on paper and not perfecting it. If you are drawing a real object, compare what you have sketched and what is on the original object. The sizes of the shapes relative to each other should be as accurate as possible.

Imagine what you want your flower to look like ultimately then have a light sketch of your imagination with a pencil. The best way to have a more realistic drawing is to imagine the basic shapes the object is made of.

Step 2: Enhance your sketch

You can use darker/heavier line to elaborate your sketch. This is a great way to bring out parts of the drawing you need. You can take out the lines you don’t need. You can add details to your drawing bit by bit but always make sure you look back to see if it has what you wanted. There are several techniques you can use to enhance your ability to express ideas through your art.

You can draw with shadings. Think of how the light hits an object and which parts of the body need more light or need to be darker. This is a simple way to add intensity, depth and luminosity to your drawing.

It is also important to practice with shadows if you wish to have a more realistic drawing. You can be good at shadows if you study and understand the way light normally reflects from objects and the shadow that its leaves.

Step 3: Add realism touches

Understand what makes a certain object look real in a drawing. Mastering this practice is key if you want to make your drawings appear more life-like. This involves familiarizing yourself with perspective-meaning things that are far look smaller and that ones that are nearer look bigger. Also understand the proportion of the image-how different parts of an object relate to each other.

With that in mind, you will be able to have a drawing that looks better than what you used to draw. You will not have a perfect drawing at first. It is important to understand that drawing is an art that gets better with practice.

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The Forming Techniques in Leatherwork: Gluing and Stitching


This process ensures the permanent joining or securing of the various parts of the intended article together. Usually, small pins are used by some leather craft men to initially secure the pieces together as a final check before the actual stitching or gluing is carried out. Other leather craft men oversew the edges of the pieces temporarily together with cotton as a checker to test the general outlook of the article. The temporary sewing is very important because any corrections can be easily made before the actual and permanent stitching is done. When the leather craft man is very satisfied and convinced of the assembling after carrying out the temporary stitching, the final gluing or stitching is then carried out. If the various pieces are to be secured with glue, the areas are well sanded to smooth and free them of any dirt that would disturb the binding. The brush is dipped in the glue and then applied gently at the edges to be secured together.

Most adhesives after their application need time to set before they can stick together. If this is the case, the leather craft man allows the applied adhesive to set. The duration is dependent on the type of adhesive or cements applied. After the adhesive is set (Most leather craft men use their fingers to check whether is set), the edges are gently brought together with great caution by working on them from one point to another till all the parts are permanently secured. Excess glue is neatly wiped with a piece of cloth and left to dry in an airy space or area.


If stitching is to be carried out, the pieces to be sewn are brought together. A stitch spacer is used in creating the holes at the edges of the pieces. The tool is held in the left hand in a vertical position and hit at the handle end with a hammer. To ensure equal spacing of the holes, the first prong of the tool is placed in the last hole created. A piece of linoleum or strawboard is placed under the leather during the piercing process so as not to damage the teeth of the stitch spacer. It would be a good plan to rule a line with a bone folder or tracer as a guide for the holes. The corners of the articles are best pierced with an awl. If threads will be used for sewing, they must be strong and their color should be close as possible to the color of the leather to create color harmony.

To make the threads stronger, the leather craft man may rub it slightly in beeswax. This would also reduce frequent curling or knotting during the sewing. Needles with round large eyes are best suitable for the sewing. The threads should not be pulled too tight or too loosely. If it is pulled too tight, it may cut through the leather and draw it out of shape while making it loose would make the entire piece look clumsy.

If thonging is to be done, the holes punched in each of the pieces must unite if a perfect joining is to be achieved. Enough allowance should be left from the edges of the pieces before the holes are created. If this is not done and the stitches are made exactly at the edges, the sewing will not be strong and may wear out very soon after constant handling. The thronging technique to be used by the leather craft man must be well thought of because the various thronging styles have specific articles they can suit best.

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How To Produce Ten Different Lacing Styles

There are several lacing or thonging styles which though form part of the construction of the article, also improve the aesthetic appeal of the article. Some of these styles are discussed in this article.

1. Oversew/ whip stitch
After the holes or slits are created, the thong is passed through the first hole from the underside of the leather and then passed on the top. It follows continuously in that manner till the process is complete.

2. Oversew with two colours
This lacing technique is similar to the oversew technique. However, the difference is that two different coloured thongs are used alternately.

3. Couching
In this process, a different coloured strip of leather is ‘laid’ in skived and stuck in position between the slits and the edges of the leather before the oversew lacing is done on it.

4. Criss-cross/ Cross loop/ Baseball X stitch
Two rows of thongs are used for creating this style. The first row is worked from left to right while the second row is rather worked from right to left. However, intermediate slits or holes are left when the first row is worked on for the second row to fill them in creating the criss-cross pattern.

5. Close criss-cross
This is an oversew thonging style that is worked in an alternate direction like the criss-cross technique. Two different coloured rows of thongs are used.

6. Running
Slits are cut at right angles to the edge of the leather instead of it being parallel with it spaced at equal distances. A flat needle is used to pass the leather strip in alternately in an ‘over-one’, ‘under-one’ manner to create a running thong.

7. Point de Ganse
In this technique, the strip of leather is passed through the first slit and down through the second leaving a small loop. The thong is then pulled up from the underside and passed through the small loop created from the top, pulling the stitch tight.

8. Slanting
As the name suggests, slanting thongs slants to the right. Two rows of slits are created in a slanting direction on the surface of the leather piece with a thonging tool. The thong is passed from the underside through the first slit at the left-hand end of the top row and down through the slit in the bottom row. It is then brought up through the second slit in the top row and down through the next slit in the bottom row.

9. Oversew and Buttonhole
This is a combination of oversewing and buttonhole styles which are done using two thongs of contrasting colours. One of the thongs is used in creating the oversew thonging. After that, the buttonhole is created. It involves threading the thong through one of the overcast stitches already made. It is then passed down through the bottom of the next stitch of oversewing pulling it through, leaving a small loop. Bring the thong up through the small loop and pull it tight. Pass the thong down through the loop while pulling the stitch tight.

10. Slanting and threading
Two contrasting colours of thongs are used. One row of the thong is made in the slanting thonging style. The other thong is threaded under and over the slanting stitches.

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