Coiled baskets

Last week there were only five of us in class – a rare luxury (for the students) of lots of space and attention. Everyone ended up working on different techniques, such as knitting with paper strips cut from magazines and sewn together, or weaving strips of pelmet Vilene dyed in the heatpress.

I’d missed the previous week’s class because I was on holiday, so I decided to have a go at making a coiled basket. Essentially the principle is that you wrap strips of one material (in my case raffia, but you can use strips cut from plastic bags or fabric) around some kind of cord (sash cord is ideal, as it doesn’t fray, but it’s rather expensive, so I used nylon clothes line). As you wrap the cord, you also coil it around itself, and then on every fourth or fifth ‘wrap’ you thread the wrapper through the previous coil to bind the whole vessel together.

By coiling the cord around the outside of itself you produce a flat disc; if you want a 3D version, you coil it on top of the other coils. Indian and native American baskets are often made this way, using materials like split twigs and yucca fibres.

You can also produce ‘open’ structures by keeping the coils apart and binding them only occasionally where they come into contact. I decided to try both methods in a bowl with a flat bottom and open sides.

Work in progress - the bottom of the basket is closely coiled, while the sides are more open loops
Nearly there - I'm not sure how to finish it off!

Coiling is quite a slow process, so I took the basket home with me to do some more work on it. The problem is, I’m not quite sure how to finish it off, so at the moment I have a bit of the blue nylon washing line sticking out! I’ll have to ask my tutor on Wednesday.

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