How to make a basket

Traditional coil basket. Stripped bramblewood cane and cocksfoot grass

With lockdown set to drag on, I thought I’d share a little something that may be of interest to anyone looking to have a go at an ancient craft. It’s a 12 episode free tutorial on how to make a rough and ready coil basket.

Forms of traditional coil basket making can be found on every continent and it represents one of humankind’s earliest crafts. It may very well have found its technique borrowed by our earliest potters who imitated the coiling method with clay to build up the walls of their pots.

But one of the best things about coil baskets is that the materials for their manufacture are to be found everywhere. The binding can be made from bramble wood, willow, pine tree roots, bamboo and a range of other woody, fast growing species. The ‘foundation’ material – the stuff that makes up the snake-like coil – can equally come from a huge range of plants, from agriculturally produced cereal straws such as rye, wheat and barley, to wild grasses such as Cocksfoot, Sweetgrass, rushes, Coarse meadow grass and sedge.

It will come as no surprise that making your own coil basket involves very much more preparation time than it does actually ‘making’. But growing plants, harvesting them, processing them and preparing them for the work is one of the best ways of engaging with a craft and truly understanding its value. And it forces us to think about what we take from nature.