Basketry, basket making or weaving, has been around almost as long as people have populated the earth. Archeologists have found evidence of people weaving baskets 10,000 years ago. That’s a rather long time. For much of history baskets were strictly functional.
If your survival, and that of your family, depended on how many berries you could bring home at the end of a long day of gathering a basket made sense. It could hold, without losing many, a greater quantity than you could carry by hand.
Used by almost all cultures, baskets have been crafted from a wide variety of materials. Almost any strong, pliable medium will serve as basket-making-material. Among them, grasses, pine needles, bulrush, straw and the fronds of certain palm trees. Split wood, in the hands of an experienced artisan, makes beautiful containers.
Moving on to present time baskets, while still used functionally, are often used as décor items and woven as fine art pieces. There is also resurgence in learning how to make baskets the old fashioned way—by hand.
Basket weaving begins with gathering the proper material. When we lived more rural lives this was easier. You could go outside, climb a palm tree, cut enough fronds, trim them to size and get to work. If you lived near a lake or swamp—now called “wetlands”—you’d cut some bulrush, prepare it and commence weaving a basket.
Today, getting the right materials, in the right quantities is much easier. You no longer have to find a tree, and worry about obtaining permission to harvest it, or run the risk of violating environmental regulations while cutting reeds from a stream bank.
Everything you need to begin basket weaving is available online. From complete basket making kits to instructional books and tools it’s all readily available. Some of the kits are suitable for group activities with enough stuff to make a couple dozen baskets or more. These multi-project kits are ideal for youth groups and summer camp activities.
Basket making is an enjoyable, quiet, craft suitable for long winter nights and rainy summer days. Everyone from youngsters to, well, the more mature, can have fun and explore their creativity through making baskets.
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