Welcome to Nature and Basketry with island artist Barbara Gustafson, sponsored by Vashon Artists in Schools!  We’re so glad you’re here!

In the bag of materials you should have:

  • 1 pre-drilled base
  • natural and dyed rattan reed for spokes (6 thick pieces)
  • weavers (thin pieces)
  • yarn
  • jute cord
  • seagrass rope
  • beads

You will also need:

  • a basin of warm water
  • a towel
  • scissors
  • more beads, yarn, ribbon, or cordage for decoration (optional)

Check out the videos below!  If you have any questions reach out to your classroom teacher.  Have fun!

Video 1 – Introduction

All around the world basket weavers collect and use natural materials for their woven baskets. Some of those materials include; bark, red cedar, grass, pine needles, shrubs, cane, wood, cattail, bulrush, yarns, raffia, and spruce roots. Every handwoven basket has a function, a specific use. There are baskets for carrying things, picnics, storage, gathering eggs, gardening and going to market, baby cradles, herbs, or for fanciful gifts. People around the world also weave clothing and hats, fishing nets, houses, mats, beds, bird cages, fences, brooms, furniture, and more…

Video 2 – Base

Soak the 5 spokes and rattan weavers in warm water for 15 minutes before beginning.

Cut points on the ends of the spokes to help them slip through the holes on the base.

Attach the spokes to the base and try to make the spokes all the same length. You may trim the ends of the spokes to even them.

Tip: While the spokes are very wet, try to straighten them by gently bending as needed.

Video 3 – Starting your Weaver

Slide one end of a wet rattan weaver to the inside of the basket and behind a spoke. Hold it in place with your finger. Lay the weaver along the outside of the next spoke. Then, slide the weaver behind the third spoke. Continue weave in and out around the spokes of the basket.

Tip: Don’t hold the end of the weaver and “sew” it in and out of the spokes. It is difficult to control the shape and strength of the basket using this technique.

Tip: Turn the base like a steering wheel so that you can always see the spokes where the weaver is being added.

Because of the odd number of spokes (9), each row of weaving will alternate. This pattern gives your basket strength.

Video 4 – Adding Weaver

Cut the end of your weaver ½ way between 2 spokes and tuck the end to the inside of the basket.

Begin a new weaver exactly as you attached the first weaver. Begin and end a piece of the seagrass the same way also.

Tip: You may change the weaver at any time (you don’t have to wait until you’ve woven in an entire piece), especially if you are developing a pattern of colors along the sides.

Video 5 – Yarn and Beads

Fold the yarn or jute in half and slide the loop down onto a spoke. Weave the 2 strands together in and out around the basket. To finish off, simply tie the ends of the yarn/jute to a spoke. Cut off the excess.

Add the beads by sliding them onto a spoke. To hold the beads firmly in place, add a piece of rattan and weave for at least 2 rows.

Tip: Rattan gives your basket strength. Other materials like; seagrass, beads, yarn and jute add interesting colors, shapes, textures, but no strength. Be sure to weave several rows of rattan into your basket every inch or so.

Video 6 – Finishing

Remember to leave 2-3 inches of the spokes unwoven.

Re-wet the spokes of your basket until they bend easily.

Tip: You decide how tall or short you would like your basket. Don’t cut your spokes too short or you’ll not be able to finish the rim.

To make the Loop/Arch rim, bend a spoke into a rainbow arch and poke the tip of the spoke into the weaving right beside the adjacent spoke. Do this with each spoke. Adjust the loops so they are all the same size.

Tip: If the loop is too large, pull the spoke out and trim some length off the tip. If the loop is too small, you will need to remove a few rows of weaving at the top of the basket.

For more information about how to get involved with VAIS, please contact us at vais@vashoncenterforthearts.org.

Vashon Artists in Schools (VAIS) is a Vashon Center for the Arts program in partnership with Vashon Island School District.  Additional and generous support is provided by Washington State Arts CommissionVashon Partners in Education (PIE), Vashon Thriftway, Vashon Island Community PTSA, and individual donors.