This is the Large Cat Head basket I made in the class with Billie Ruth Sudduth.
I found this Mica cut into discs which fascinated me. Being Mica, they are very fragile but strong enough to handle and tie. I used purple waxed linen to tie them together and to the basket. I have collected rocks and minerals from the ground all of my life and I have some beautiful samples of Mica. I love the way it reflects light looking solid silver or translucent.
The cat head style basket is one of my favorites and I was pleased to find an attachment to do it justice.
This is my newest endeavor. It is a ‘wicker’ basket made with round reed. Other common materials used for wicker are willow and honeysuckle. I got this pattern from a book “Contemporary Wicker Basketry” by Flo Hoppe. She is one of the best American wicker basket artists.
When I first started making baskets, I was very drawn to wicker style baskets. After trying a very simple design from a friend of mine, I found it was not for me. I found it extremely difficult and frustrating and had no patience for it. I never finished it.
Recently, as I was browsing through my books I found I was, once again, drawn to this type of basket. The pattern is called “Double Diagonals” for the intricate border. Taking my time, and keeping my patience I really enjoyed making this wicker basket. I think I will make this basket again, trying some different techniques and colors. Thank you, Flo!
Appalachian Egg Basket
It’s high time I did some posting. I have been very lax. I was very fortunate to be able to take a class with one of North Carolina’s ‘Living Treasures’, Billie Ruth Sudduth. She taught a class at Penland School of Crafts last July and I was able to attend.
She is most notably known for her ‘Cat Head’ baskets, hence my interest. I learned to make them from one of her books. This class was for “Big” baskets and that they were.
The extra large Calabash clam basket is 15″ in diameter. She named it after a tiny shrimping town on the southern coast of NC and the pattern is named for the bivalve clam. The Chevron pattern is a signature of the Chitimachas tribe of Indians from Louisiana.
This basket uses a ’twill’ weave which is any weave other than over one/under one. There are endless variations of twill weaves. This particular weave is over two/under one which creates an extremely strong basket.
The Bushel basket is 19″ high with a 12″ top diameter. It has multiple colors and is a simple over one/under one weave. We hand dyed all of our reed in this class. The handles are hand carved oak. And, no, I did not carve them myself. Good Grief! I guess you could use this as a laundry basket.
The egg basket is 19″ wide and 14″ deep. I have never seen an egg basket this large. The lashing which holds the two hoops together on each side is called an “ear”. There are different kinds of lashing. The most common one is a “God’s Eye” is a four point lashing. The one used here is a three point lashing, most commonly used in Southern Appalachia. It is also known as “donkey ears”.
We also made a large ‘cat head’ basket. I have not finished the rim yet. I am trying something a little different on that and will post it separately soon.
When I first saw this I thought it was used to scoop fish out of the water. Of course, I didn’t think about them sliding back out through the hole!
Anyway, this is an implement, technically not a basket but beautiful just the same. It is actually used to hold and serve hors d’oeuvres and condiments. Quite ingenious. Anytime that reed is woven into itself the process becomes confusing for me. I did this from a pattern purchased from and designed by Flo Hoppe.
Looking at it, I thought it was quite large but it is only 1 foot long and seven inches at it’s widest point. The lashing is cane as is the top knot which holds all the reed together.
This is a little fancy for a hearth basket. Probably should have left off the topknot. The handle has one of my unusual wraps. In some ways it reminds me of a spider web. Use to find them inside the fireplace. ( If you didn’t use it to often!)
I’m not sure if people would have trouble filling if with logs or fat wood. It could be used for a floral display or to keep some nice comfy throws to sit by the fire with. Or even a place for a small dog to take a nap in. It’s 2′ x 1′ x 14″ H. Large enough for quite a few things. What do you think?
The Shakers used this to age rounds of cheese. The base is a hexagon with hexagon openings and as the sides are woven it becomes round. Very architectural looking but extremely confusing to make. These baskets can be made in many shapes like a triangle or long oval as in a bread basket.
It isn’t a very strong basket so it’s limited in it’s uses but I think my cat would love laying in it and poking his paws through the openings. It’s used most often as a decorative object hanging on a wall.
Red, Gray & Natural
This basket was the first checkerboard design I did. I got all the stakes in (the vertical strips), natural, gray, natural, gray, etc. When I went to get the gray weavers (the horizontal strips) I stopped in shock because I had no gray left. I mean, really? I didn’t dye enough strips? So, okay no problem, I’ll use red.
When I finished the second row of weavers (the horizontal strips) now I knew I had a problem. I’m still wondering where my brain went that day because I sat there and stared at the thing for 5 minutes. 5 minutes! When my brain came back from hiding I realized I used the weavers for the stakes. 2 colors in a checkerboard Lynn, 2 colors! All stakes one color and all weavers another. So simple.
The basket came out great but it’s sure NOT a checkboard!
I like the look of old, old baskets especially from the southern Appalachian mountain areas. Although my baskets don’t have an old look they give a hint of flavor of the old South. I guess they are considered to be primitive because they are so simply made and are over 100 years old. I should do some research are them.
The large square is a repro of the tobacco leaf drying basket. You can still find some in flea markets in the southern states. They were usually quite large; mine is only 14″ x 14″. It is the only basket that is stapled together as far as I know. I used 1″ flat reed and stained it a driftwood color. They are great to hang on a wall. Very graphic looking.
The other is simple centerpiece or mantle basket. It has a high handle (not sure why) and again I kept it very plain with as gray stain although a lot were painted. I’ll try that next.
I have been experimenting with larger sized reeds lately. The baskets above use both stakes & weavers of 3/4″ width. It has pros & cons. Larger is not easier to use as, say 1/2″ or 3/8″ but the basket weaves faster. Because the reed is wider it is necessarily thicker which can cause unevenness in rows. I’ve made these baskets with a “simple-weave”, over/under, over/under, etc. and I like the simplicity of using just the natural and a single color which creates a checkerboard pattern.
I am also using legs or ‘feet’. This creates other possibilities for use. These baskets have a less traditional look as opposed to a wool gathering floor basket with feet, which has a country feel to them.
I hand-dyed all the reed used in these baskets and really like how they turned out. Will have to make more!
Japanese/Penland Style Basket
I haven’t posted anything in so long. I was invited to put my baskets in a consignment store in Bristol, TN. so I was very busy with preparing for that. I’m very excited about it and hope to sell some. I am also preparing for a craft fair in June and have been feverishly making more baskets for that!
This particular basket, shown above, is a combination of an old Japanese basket pinned on Pinterest and a basket made by Billy Ruth Sudduth. (I’ll be taking a class with her in July!) The Japanese style uses all ’round’ reed. I have used ‘rattan’ flat reed for the curls as does Sudduth but I added a handle and the basket is tall like the Japanese one.
It was not particularly hard to make but needed a lot of measuring and adjusting of the round reed spaces. There are 100 individual curls and each curl is inserted into each space. When the basic form of the basket was finished I gave it a dark Rosewood stain and the rim is a very light Rosewood.
The handle is made from reed strips and wrapped with a topknot to finish it off. I’m very pleased with it and hope you are too.