Corn has long been used by Americans for food, feeding livestock and even for baskets. Native Americans cultivated maize and used every piece of the corn, allowing none of it to go to waste. Corn husks were made into baskets that could carry grains, ceremonial masks worn by medicine men and others, bags to carry clothes and even moccasins to protect one's feet. You can carry on that efficient practice by learning how to make your own corn husk basket.
Remove the husks from four ears of corn and allow them to dry on a towel or a clothesline for a few days or until they are thoroughly dry. Soak them in a sink filled with warm water for 10 minutes.
Remove the husks from the water, separating the thicker, outer husks from the softer, inner husks. Lay eight narrow, pointed ends of the outer husks facing each other in two stacks of four husks. Allow the pointed ends to overlap each other by about 2 inches.
Tear one of the soft inner husks in half lengthwise so that it's half as wide as it was originally. Wrap it around the centre of the outer husk stacks twice, securing the area where the husks overlap and forming the bottom of the basket.
Fan out eight outer corn husk pieces with 2 to 3 inches of space between each husk. Tear all soft inner corn husk pieces in half lengthwise to create "twine" which you will weave through the outer husks to form the basket. Weave the narrow, inner husk twine around the outer spokes in an over-under-over-under pattern in a clockwise direction. Splice in new corn husk pieces frequently by laying the new piece on top of the existing thread and continuing to weave with it so that it is incorporated into the pattern seamlessly.
Split the outer husks in half length wise after completing four rounds or circles with the inner husk twine. Continue weaving until you complete eight rounds, or the bottom of your basket. Hold your basket so that the outer husk pieces lay straight and continue weaving inner husk threads through them. Pull on the corner pieces gently to prevent your basket from tapering as you weave. Continue weaving all the way up the outer husk pieces until the sides of your basket are complete.
Bend outer husks inward, narrowing the basket to create a neck or top of the basket. Complete two to three rounds weaving around two outer husk pieces at a time, forcing the narrowing of the basket shape.
Complete the basket by laying the inner husk pieces parallel to the rim of the basket top. Bend each outer husk piece over the rim and poke it through a small space in the inner husk pieces two rows down from the rim. Pull the outer husk through the hole with a crochet hook or bent metal hanger. Cut off the loose ends with a pair of scissors.
Things you need
- Husks from 4 ears of corn
- Sink filled with warm water
- Crochet hook or bent metal hanger