Unlike ceramics, baskets, or fragments of baskets, appear almost as ghosts in archaeological digs. By their very nature at the mercy of damp, worm, and wear, natural fibres return to the earth, in a continual process of decomposition. Preserved best in either the extreme dry heat of deserts or underwater, lying soft as butter in the silt of lake villages, basketry’s role as the original ‘slow’ craft is also found as traces of pattern on coiled pottery, made using baskets as a mould. In spite of the scarcity of evidence it is obvious that vast numbers of containers of all shapes and sizes, made from whatever materials grew regionally, were crucial for the development of civilisations.
Baskets – so familiar and so universal, yet close inspection reveals significant variety; forms that have developed over time to fulfil specific functions, and are the repository of cultural identity. Some baskets have always been made in small numbers for individual use, by farmworkers and travellers; whilst others were made in their thousands in workshops, and were essential containers for fishing, agriculture and early industries such as charcoal burning. Many baskets retained these functions until relatively recently.
This collection, commissioned by The New Craftsmen, was put together to show off forms from the familiar to the intriguing, and techniques that include plaiting, looping, twining, cordage, stake-and-strained as well as hoop-and-rib constructions. Textures arise directly from field, woodland, river and hedgerow. The harvesting and processing of materials, in their annual cycle, is often as time-consuming as the actual weaving of the work..... To read full article click on the Selvedge Articles icon below from issue 69.