Microbasketry workshop with Rita Soto

On Saturday I took part in an online microbasketry workshop with Rita Soto as part of the Selvedge World Fair.

Rita Soto is a Chilean artist who makes jewellery using basketry techniques. She works mainly with horsehair and agave fibre, producing wonderfully organic wearable forms.

Rita Soto brooch
Brooch by Rita Soto

These materials are traditionally used by the Rari community in southern Chile, where the technique has been passed on through generations, mostly via women.

But ecause horsehair is not particularly common here, we used different thicknesses and colours of fishing line (before this workshop I never knew that fishing line comes in different colours, so that’s another thing I’ve learnt!).

As you can imagine, the tiny scale of this technique makes it a bit tricky to demonstrate on a videoconference platform, but we did our best, with a cameraphone focused on Rita’s hands as she worked. We were also immensely helped by some clear written instructions distributed in advance.

In the two-hour workshop we learned how to start, how to weave a flat disc, and two ways of finishing off, as well as how and when to add “stakes” and join weavers. You definitely need good light and eyesight to tackle something like this!

Here’s what I managed to make during the workshop – a piece smaller than my thumbnail!

After the workshop I decided to experiment with using paper yarn for the stakes, or warp, with fishing line as the weaver, or weft. I also curved it into more of a basket shape. This piece was a bit bigger!

I like the delicate reflectiveness of this technique and material. The light plays beautifully across the surface as you move it in your hands, but this is difficult to capture in photos – it looks more like wire.

I’m not sure at the moment whether I will take this any further, but it’s another material to add to my armoury!

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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%.

17 thoughts on “Microbasketry workshop with Rita Soto”

  1. These are very cute, it seems that you can weave with just about anything. I saw an interesting photo the other day and thought of you. They used dried mandarin skins as part of a decoration in a woven bowl. It looked like leather. 🙂

      1. Funnily enough, I did have a go at removing all the fruit from half a grapefruit, leaving the skin intact, thinking I might dry it out and then use it as a base for coiling, but it didn’t work very well! That’s not to say I won’t try again. 😉

  2. Wow! It must be extremely tricky to make such minute weavings. I love the sheen of the paper and fishing line piece. I find the whole idea of using different materials very interesting because I have done a little bit of basic loom weaving and tried a few experiments. 🙂

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