Coiled baskets have been created and used by people in many cultures over the centuries. They can be easily made with just a few items that are usually found around the house. Raffia, yarn or other organic fibres are popular materials used to make coiled baskets, but environmentally friendly solutions are also available, including recycled newspapers and rags. Making coiled basketry is a creative craft that results in utilitarian and decorative objects.
Materials Used in Coiled Basket Crafts
Coiled basket crafts are made using a core and yarn or strings, which help stitch the basket together. The core of coiled baskets may contain materials such as clothesline or recycled rags, but organic materials can be woven into baskets as well, including pine needles, willow tree branches, mahogany roots or other plant materials. It is essential that the plants are completely dry before they are coiled to ensure that the basket is durable. Recycling newspapers and pages of magazines and turning them into colourful baskets is also an inventive idea. This core should be easy to handle, so that you can create baskets in the desired shape.
Tools You'll Need
You will need large-eye needles, though the size will depend on the thickness of the strings used for the stitching. Thicker fibres require larger-eyed needles. Basket-makers use these needles to make the stitching and tie the strings around the core materials that are coiled.
Coiled Basketry Technique
The coiled basket building technique is also known as "stitch." The best known techniques are the close-coiling (without horizontal spaces between the coils) and the open-coiling (with spaces between coils). Start by cutting a long piece of clothesline or roll newspapers and magazine pages into a longer strip, which is the core of the basket. Thread one end of the yarn, rope or embroidery thread string through a needle, and tie a knot around the core with the other end. Wind the yarn five times around the core. Bend the end of the core and use figure-eight stitching under and over the core to cover the core entirely and create the central coil, which will be at the bottom of the basket. Continue coiling the core material and winding the yarn three times around the core, followed by the figure-eight stitching. Use figure-eight stitching to connect two rows and alternate this stitching with winding the string three times around the core until you obtain the desired basket size. Other techniques involve making knots around the core instead of winding the yarn around the core, resulting in spaces between the coils. If using plants or a bundle of pine needles as the core of your basket, you need to add more materials as you work. Add three or four pine needles to your bundle after every other stitch.
Colours and Designs
Coiled baskets often have patterns, designs and different colours. Basket makers can spiral the materials in a single colour or change the colours every two or three rows. Inserting colours in various points of the basket can create a design, which can be simple or more complex. Basket makers often alternate various types of stitches (open-coiling and close-coiling) to create a pattern.
Basket makers often use bowls to guide the shape and build the coiled baskets around the bowls or inside them, following the shape of the bowls. However, this type of craft leaves room for improvisation as well. You can achieve round or oval-shaped baskets by controlling the form of the basket as you coil the core materials. However, you can also build free-form baskets.