Plaited basketry at City Lit

Last week we finished the first module of the two-year basketry course at City Lit. The subject was plaiting, and the tutor was Polly Pollock. I missed the first week because I was on holiday in Uzbekistan, so as soon as I got back it was straight into a marathon strip-cutting session!

We started off with watercolour paper, as it is strong but flexible. However, we were encouraged to experiment with other materials and also to add overlays (extra elements threaded through after weaving the main basked) to add colour and texture.

The three main techniques we covered were bias plaiting, straight plaiting and skewed forms. We combined these with different borders – zigzag, flat and sandwich and sew.

Here are some of my practice samples made with bias plaiting using khadi paper, an old map, newspaper cordage and vinyl wallpaper.

bias plaited bowl bias plaited bowl bias plaited bowl bias plaited bowl

Here’s a straight plaited vessel made with watercolour paper.

straight plait vessel

And here’s a skewed vessel, also made with watercolour paper.

skewed vessel

For our final module assignment we had to make a series of three related pieces using some or all of these techniques, inspired by the modern architecture of Rotterdam.

I have to admit that this was a bit of a challenge for me, as my inspiration usually comes from natural rather than human-made forms. But even I got drawn in by the weird and wacky architecture of this Dutch city.

Here are the results, all made with watercolour paper, damp proof membrane and flattened corrugated cardboard.

plaited basket plaited basket plaited basket

I have to admit that the third piece, of a vessel within a vessel, was actually inspired by another building in London, and its spiky “haircut” was just a piece of whimsy on my part (though I could argue it’s supposed to be a roof garden 😉 ). It’s also not really tall enough, but I ran out of paper and time as it had to be finished for evaluation last week.

I really enjoyed this first module. It was quite intense – and hard work cutting all the strips! – and moved me out of my comfort zone.

This week we move on to willow, which I suspect will also be challenging!

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Flextiles

Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

9 thoughts on “Plaited basketry at City Lit”

  1. These all look great. It does sound challenging but pushed out of our comfort zone is good for us and usually results in something that wouldn’t have been created otherwise. Have fun!

  2. These are very nice – particularly like the one with the map, it looks solid and armour-like with nice pleasing 45 degree corners. Look forward to more images as course progresses. And I very much liked your Prism seeds – saw in flesh as well as in blog!

  3. Kim these are fab. I’ve used a map to create a large basket before but I never thought of closing it over the top.
    Moving out of your comfort zone has enabled you to produce some intriguing pieces. Keep the photos of your endeavours coming.

  4. Loved seeing these Kim, and the beginnings of one ‘in the flesh’ as it were. What an interesting array of materials you have used, as always. I have plenty of tools of leftover wallpapers…….. I gather that manipulating willow can be hard on the hands, but it produces such beautiful results I’ Sure it will be worth it. Xx

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