There are tons of tips out there. If you have some to share, please
contact us at Baskets, Etc.
"Simpson" BasCat to Pat Turner. (Picture submitted by Bonnie Lampert)
From deAnn Jussila:
I use the pony tail rubber band with the two round balls to secure my reed
when it is opened. When I open a new reed I take the tag that has
the printed size of reed and fold through the rubberband and secure with
a staple. This tells me what size reed I have and let's me know sooner
when that size needs to be ordered. (3/19/02)
From Charles Geisler:
When spacing ribs (or staves) on the Nantucket basket mold I place a cocktail
toothpick between the ribs as I insert them into the base (or lid) plate.
This helps to achieve adequate spacing for the weaver. Elizabeth
(Geisler) is now instructing her students in using this technique.Enjoy.
From D. Armstrong: I purchased
2 laundry bags from Wal-mart. These aren't the reg. muslin ones, they are
mesh-sided, with 2 handles and a solid bottom. They expand so I can fill
them with all my supplies needed for class. (1/28/01)
This from Helen Schwartz: I work
at my dining room table. For work surface I use a giant white plastic cutting
board on which I have made a one-inch grid with waterproof blue marker
so I have control over the size of my basket bottoms. I have also used
other-color markers to draw footprints of favorite baskets so that they
are essentially the same size when I lay them out. (4/5/00)
From Jamey L. Wimer: Here's
a great tip that I got from another basket weaver. When storing tools and
supplies, use a 5-gallon bucket with one of those tool organizers that
slip over the top of the bucket. They are inexpensive and can be found
at most hardware stores. They have little pockets on the outside which
hold my tools (cutters, nippers, screwdrivers, pencils, awls, etc.). They
have larger pockets for things like shavers. The the inside of the bucket
can be used for storing large things like spray bottle, seagrass, and towel.
Now all my tools and supplies are in one neat place, and they are easy
to get to while I'm weaving. (2/9/00)
From Cheri Branca: I just discovered another use for an 8" octagonal
hoop. Use it in place of an 8" square hoop/rim in Nancy Gruber's Flared
Cut Flower Basket. Gives it an interesting new look to the handle. One
of the eight sides is just wide enough to start the base with the stakes
pushed together as in her directions. Try it!
I also have found a way a nice way to control the shape of a round
or oval shaped basket when you are using an inserted notched handle that
wants to pull the top of the basket out of shape. Use a hoop/rim that coordinates
with your handle for forming the basket and then use that same hoop as
the outside rimming material. Makes a wonderfully strong rim and looks
very attractive. (7/14/99)
Tip from Annette Barnard: I cut out my baskets on an old used banquet
table and I glued a dressmakers measuring tape to the top edge of the table.
So when I cut out baskets it really speeds up the task. Often I cut out
several patterns at a time and store them in small plastic garbage bags
and pop the pattern in with the materials and when I have the time, just
soak and weave! Really has sped up the system. (3/1/99)
Left/right tip from Sam J. Saccoia: I have been receiving instructions
on making "Black Ash" baskets from an old time basket maker, Edward Liddle,
and would like to pass on to our members something he taught me. Like myself,
he is right handed. But instead of weaving from "right to left", he weaves
"left to right". He reasoning is: "instead of the spokes moving inward
to the center of the basket, they go to the outside of the basket, and
you will have better control with forming the basket with your right hand."
I tried this method on a basket were it is was critical to have the spokes
move outward, and I found that his his method works and basket came out
perfect. Ed is confined to his bed, but he enjoys talking with other basket
makers. He doesn't have a computer, but anyone having questions may send
them to me and I will pass them on. (8/12/98)
From Donna of Country Seat in
response to a question about restoring painted wicker: You must first determine
if it is truly wicker or "depression era wicker" Look underneath at a piece
of the round material and determine if it is a solid piece or "twisted"
fiber. Break off one of the ends from the inside if you have to and see
if it untwists. If it does untwist, this is "depression wicker" and is
made of twisted paper and cannot be used outside. It is typically woven
on a loom and bent around a frame. True wicker is solid material and woven
onto or into the framework. It is a natural fiber(round reed) and is OK
outside, but we usually recommend storing it over the winter. Some moisture
is good for it as it helps to preserve the fibers but being kept continually
wet could cause it to rot. Regarding refinishing - all of the above applies.
If depression, you cannot totally refinish it. Use a stiff brush and clean
up as much of the old chipped paint as possible. You may be able to hand
strip off a few of the top layers of paint, but do not get down to the
bare wicker as it will disintegrate being just paper. A fresh coat of paint
is about the best you can do.
If true wicker, this can be stripped as any piece of wood to be refinished.
I have successfully had it hot-dipped in a stripping tank. Since the local
stripped power washes anything coming out of the tank, once the old paint
is soft, the power wash removes it from between the reeds. Allow to throughly
dry for up to several weeks, depending on the method of stripping used
before putting on a new finish.
One thing though, it will NEVER regain original color or condition
due to sheer use and exposure over the years. I stained my piece a nice,
dark stain and you would never know that it had been painted a disgusting,
institutional green. (8/4/98)
Basket decorating tip from Barbara
Stebbins: Having very little talent for painting decorative elements
on my baskets, I have been experimenting with "stamping". I first weave
my strip (I've had good luck with both ash and maple) into position in
the basket. With a pencil I mark the areas of the strip that will be visible.
I then remove the strip and apply the stamp design at the desired locations.
I have found that if you pick a simple stamp design (one that tends to
be an outline shape) you can stamp with a clear embossing ink, apply embossing
powder (I have found black to work the best), and then heat your powder.
The result is a very clear, raised outline so you can apply the colors
using acid free markers. When I am done, I re-weave the strip and then
give each stamp a light spray of Krylon.
I've done ladybugs, sunflowers, panseys, and some southwestern
tile blocks and they have turned out very nicely. Although I have not done
this yet, the same technique should be able to be applied to would bases
prior to sealing. (7/3/98)
Chreri Branca adds to
the pattern tip below: Also put the name of the pattern on each page too.
That way if a few patterns get inadvertently mixed together you can easily
sort them back to their proper order. (5/18/98)
Tip for pattern authors from Billie
Dorris: Recently I have gotten two patterns (one from basket patterns
and the other a friend brought me from Michigan). In both cases a page
was missing. I know that it was an honest mistake and have no problem when
it happens. The problem comes when you contact the author/by e-mail, phone
or snail mail. You have to describe what the last page you have is so you
know what page is missing. If the pages were numbered 1 of 6, 2 of 6 etc.
you could easy tell the author which page is missing. Also since many people
don't read thru the pattern before they begin they won't even know the
page is missing until they get to it. It might be a bit more work to number
this way, but think it will pay off in the end. (4/8/98)
From Bonnie Lampert:
I have recently been making a number of baskets using seagrass, as anyone
who has done this knows, it tears up your hands. I purchased a pair of
'batting gloves' at a discount store sporting goods department. No more
hands full of cuts & splinters!! (3/9/98)
From Winnie : When I finish a basket,
using a fine tipped permanent marker, I number it, date it (year only)
and sign it. I usually can find a place on the bottom in a corner. I record
the number in a spiral notebook as well as a description of the basket,
stain or color used, if it was a gift, the name of the person I gave it
to, and the month I made it. This comes in very handy when someone wants
to know which stain I used on a specific basket. I turn the basket over,
check the number, and look it up on my numerical list. It's also a good
record of who I've given baskets to and which baskets they already have.
From Nony Paquette: I do a lot
of Nantucket baskets and the packing can be awful, but a banjo pick helps
a lot. The stronger the better; it does work for packing down reed and
is a great help. (10/29/97)
Round reed tip from Jane
A. Wilson: Keeping #0,1,2,3 round reed in order: I read a tip from
someone in a list serve to hang a hank of round reed from the ceiling and
pull out a strand at the time. I was not able to suspend a hank from the
ceiling but adapted that idea. First, wind a strong rubber band at the
end of the hank. Next attach pop-it pony tail holders at 36" intervals
to give a good estimate of how long the strands are and to help keep them
in order. Secure the end of the hank to a table leg (for small legged tables,
use another pony tail holder to stretch around the leg and hank in the
vicinity of the rubber band. Now you can uncoil the hank along the floor
and starting at the end opposite the rubber band, pull out the strands
one at the time. I leave the hank attached to the table leg and it will
coil back up out of the way until more round reed is needed. As the hank
depletes, readjust the pop-its and rubber band for the smaller diameter.
This works well for me.
From Kay Janke of MI: When you are using a long piece of lashing and
it frequently dries out, keep it pliable by having a flat sponge nearby.
First wet the sponge, wring out, then apply Sta-puff fabric softener (about
a tablespoon) so it soaks in the sponge. Work the Sta-puff into the sponge.
When your reed becomes dry, just wrap the sponge around the reed and pull
the sponge down the length of the reed. Do this as needed to keep the lasher
pliable. Instant help that stays longer.
Easy summer project from Shelby Cefaratti : I am always looking for
ways to reuse things and discovered (probably not the first one) a fun
basket project. I took a plastic strawberry basket and randomly wove #2
round reed pieces in and out of the little holes it until it was fairly
solid. Added a handle by securing the reed under edges of the basket and
reed. Then I cut away the plastic basket (this takes some patience) and
continued to fill in any holes with more round reed. And now I have a cute
little freeform basket. It is a great way to use up all of those short
pieces of reed that we all have a bag of somewhere. I think it would be
a perfect kids project.
From Dianne Stanton regarding walnut stain: I have used it over the
years and it has faithfully molded and given off a foul smell. I've even
walked by a booth at a craft fair where someone had stained the baskets
with some sour black walnut and the whole place still had the same odor.
My solution has been to freeze the dye after each use in plastic
quart freezer boxes after each use. When I go to use it again, I heat it,
strain through a panty hose and dip the basket in, You don't need a lot
and can pour it over with a cup. It never molds anymore.
Three tips from Barb Booth: 1) Use pony tail holders (the kind with
the balls) to hold your reed coils toghether instead of taping them. 2)You
can easily dye your own seagrass. Boil it for 10 minutes in the dye water,
and 3) For a really pretty rim, use seagrass filler in two dyed colors
and wrap them around each other before you place them between the rim pieces.
It looked gorgeous in green and red for a Christmas basket.
From Lora Khoury: When lashing a rim, use plastic electrical wire ties
to hold all the pieces together as you lash. You can lash right over them
and cut them out at the end. Unlike clothespins, the ties lock in place
and won't fly off as you work. I must caution against using bread ties,
however, as the paper around the wire gets wet and then the color rubs
off on the rim. I can't take credit for coming up with this myself. A friend
shared it with me, and she heard it in a class, but can't remember the
instructor's name. I've found this very useful, especially when trying
to lash a rim that is something other than completely horizontal.
From Leslie Bloxham: I always wear surgical gloves when I weave. I get
them at Wal-Mart as they are sold there in boxes of 50 and are thicker
and better quality than the ones you can get at a pharmacy. I don't have
a problem wearing gloves at all, some people will as they can't stand the
feeling. This may be a very simple tip but I know here in the classes I
take I was the only one at first and now 2 others wear gloves. These also
are great for protecting your hands when you are dying reed or using dyed
reed. No more stain on the hands.
From Kim Renich: When doing a braid, I use 2 tools...my weaverite straight
tip AND a tupperware citrus peeler. As I'm inserting spokes, I put the
peeler under the stake to the right so that it keeps it open while I'm
trying to insert a spoke.
Jane Wilson suggests: When I recently retired from public school work,
a friend gave me an antique (old as me) oak armchair desk. The writing
surfce is 18" wide. A small (11" x 16") cutting board fits exactly. This
combines the advantages of a lap board while giving a more solid work surface.
The chair can be moved so you can work where ever you want -- in the den
for a little TV watching, on the deck to enjoy the outdoors, etc. Another
use for the desk is clamping my shaving pony to the arm.
Kelly Jaminet sends this tip: Purchase a "Quilter's Cutting Mat" from
a fabric store, the type that is made of self-healing plastic. I have a
large one on the work surface of my weaving table. These mats are water-proof,
and also have 1-inch horizontal and vertical markings. It's a handy reference
point to use when I lay out the base of any type of basket. It keeps everything
aligned perfectly. And since these mats also have a handy "ruler" printed
along the sides, it's also an invaluable tool for measuring and marking
cut reed without having to locate a yardstick or tape measurer. It's worth
Lucy Cote tells about her "accidental" success this way: Here is an
idea that I used at Christmas by accident. I made an elbow basket to look
like a Christmas stocking but wasn't paying attention and finished both
ends. It made a great heart which I stained then filled with potpourri
sachet. I made several more along with small stocking baskets for the tree
and it was beautiful.
Cheri Branca suggests, to get a new look for a basket you've done before,
stain only certain parts. For example, when weaving a melon or egg basket,
stain the handle and God's eyes (finished off) a dark walnut, then start
weaving around the ribs with NEW weavers that will remain the natural color.
The two-tone really looks nice. This can also be done with a cat's head.
Stain the base dark and then add the rim, lashing and handle, and stain
them a light pine. Market-D handles can also be stained dark and the basket
left natural. All sorts of combinations make your baskets different.
Dyeing tips (Updated 3/3/1997)
Staining tips (Updated 7/23/00)
Storage tips(Updated 7/23/00)
To shape or reshape a purchased basket handle, place in boiling water
for a few minutes and bend to desired shape. This can even be done after
the basket is completed if only the handle is placed in the water.