How to Make African Baskets

Written by shannon lea
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How to Make African Baskets
Weave an African-inspired basket from paper. (basket image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

African baskets are unique and beautiful works of art. Woven from dried grasses in contrasting colours, the baskets are watertight without the use of sealants. The contrasting colours of the grasses make for different patterns, each of which has different meanings among the cultures that make them. Although the patterns are often quite complex, even simple patterns like chequerboards are used, and a lot of our basket weaving patterns today have some African origins. True African baskets are difficult to make at home, but you can replicate the look very easily with paper.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 8 12-inch strips of 3/4 inch red construction paper
  • 4 16-inch strips of 1/2 inch blue construction paper
  • 1 paper plate
  • 1 piece of 9x12-inch red construction paper
  • 1 piece of 9x12-inch blue construction paper
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

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  1. 1

    Form an X with two of the red strips of construction paper. Glue or tape them in place.

  2. 2

    Continue to layer red pieces of construction paper on the X shape, filling it in, until all your pieces have been used. Be sure to secure the pieces as you lay them down. Your finished piece should look like an asterisk.

  3. 3

    Lay the paper plate down on your full sheet of red construction paper. Trace around it, then cut out the circle. This circle will form the bottom of the basket.

  4. 4

    Paste your red paper X to the centre of your red construction paper circle.

  5. 5

    Bend the strips of the X up and away from the bottom of the basket. These strips will form the sides of your basket.

  6. 6

    Tape the short side of one 12-inch strip of blue construction paper to one red side strip. Begin to weave the strip of blue construction paper by going over one strip of red construction paper, then under the next strip of construction paper. Repeat this sequence until the blue strip has been totally woven into the basket.

  7. 7

    Repeat step 6 with your second piece of blue construction paper.

  8. 8

    Fold over the loose ends of your red construction paper, then glue them in place. This will finish the top of the basket and create a rim. The main part of the basket is now complete.

  9. 9

    Trace a circle, using your paper plate, on your full sheet of blue construction paper. Cut a wedge out of this circle. Your finished circle should look like a pie with a piece missing. This circle will make the lid for your basket.

  10. 10

    Roll the blue circle so that the edges of the wedge touch. This should look somewhat like a funnel. Tape or glue it in place. Place the lid on your basket. Your basket is complete.

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