Basket weaving is the process of weaving un-spun pliable fibres into baskets, bowls and similar forms. It is also known as basket making or basketry. Many Archaeologists believe that basket weaving is the oldest craft known to man. Even if it is not the oldest there is no doubt that ancient cultures used the same techniques we still use today. Archaeologists have found evidence of baskets buried deep within Egyptian pyramids.
Basket weaving grew out of necessity, indigenous people across the world all used baskets as storage for food and seeds. These items were then traded and transported across the seas in their baskets. It is little wonder then that there very little difference in basket making technique and patterns across cultures.
In simple terms there are four different types of basket making. Coiled basketry is the technique of winding a grass snake and securing it with a stitch very centimeter. Baskets made using a plaiting technique uses pliable fibres that are wide and flat. Baskets made using the twining technique are probably the most identifiable to the novice as it refers to a weaving technique. Splint or wicker weaving is a basket making technique using flat material like cane or reeds.
As ancient as the art of basket making is it still survives today and if the recent Saviours of the Lost Arts Craft Fair is any indication it is not only surviving it is flourishing. During this recent successful fair I counted no less than 3 individual basket makers displaying their wares. Among them was Brisbane Fibre Artist, Robyn Van Holland.
Robyn works with plant materials to make structural forms. After attending some basic basketry weaving courses Robyn honed her skills while attending master classes with Virginia Kaiser and Nalda Searles. Robyn combines her love of travelling with basket making. Using fibres collected while on her travels Robyn creates new and exciting sculptural forms that encourage creative uses. Not content with just using natural fibres Robyn has recently started incorporating fabric in the form of old neckties, copper wire and threads.
If you are interested in learning basket making please contact the Queensland Spinners and Weavers.
All images: Robyn Van Holland, her Etsy shop is fibreartist44