Weavers have always used materials from their environment to make a basket. Cardboard boxes like cereal boxes are the result of a lot of tweaking to make an object that people want to look at, even cutting the box into strips does not detract from this effect. Sort of the same idea as a patchwork quilt. Beautiful fabric, even when cut into a 2 inch square for example, makes a beautiful quilt. For this project you will be using a centuries old basketry technique.
This is a fun project for artists of any ages. It can make a thoughtful gift. You will need a ruler, pencil, scissors, a few boxes, scotch tape and some flexible material like telephone wire.
First step, carefully open up the box, trying to maintain the potential for some very long pieces. With the ruler delineate long strips, they do not have to be all the same thickness. Mark the centre of each strip. Then cut along the pencil lines
Weave the base with the longest strips. Then its time to decide, do you want the fancy side to be along the inside bottom? Half fancy, half grey cardboard? The centre markings help you to weave an even square or rectangle in the middle of the strips. remember, alternate rows of over and under.
When you like the size of the base its time for what is called the “Upset”. Really not a traumatic process. Fold the pieces up to make 4 sides. This is when the softer flexible material is helpful to weave a tight few rows to keep the base all together. Twining is useful for this part but plain weaving can also work. Then its time to weave a strip along all 4 sides, folding at the corners and taping the ends. always start in the middle of a side and the next row, in the middle of a different side. You can add rows of twining or weaving with other materials in between cardboard rows if you want.
When the sides are as high as you want or as high as your pieces let you go, cut every piece on a slant. Weave these over the rim and the next one under the rim and then down that side if you want and VOILA! Your basket is complete.
I have always loved Ephemera. Even pieces of textile or bits of the natural world give me pleasure, either because of a memory they evoke or because I love the perfection of a small piece of the whole. Often our mind’s eye works to form a complete image from a fragment, a process that is strangely satisfying. Often, the fragment contains a powerful design element or feature. I collect so many things. And often they work their way into an art object, sooner or later. I see the value in many objects that are considered garbage to others.
Since Winter 2020, I have been sewing garments and afgans from pieces of handwoven cloth that had been leftovers from larger projects. This cloth was too precious to me to consider discarding! The pieces represented a lot of time involved in the weaving process, and so much time finding the yarns.
I wanted to add vintage crocheted doilies and the bits and pieces of antique and modern laces I had collected over the years to the cotton and silk handwoven cloths. And I also had a lot of sewing “notions” that I had also collected for both the cotton and silk and wool and mohair cloth. Let’s not forget the buttons I have collected.
Hard to explain my technique, except to say I have really perfected some things over the years. I use a sewing machine to zig zag some edges. I “full” or “shrink” some pieces to make them more stable. I like to hand sew most things together but machine stitch some joins for some extra strength when necessary. It takes forever to choose what pieces. Colour is probably the most important consideration to me. Then durability. I do enjoy the hand sewing. Over years of doing this, I have learned to make a virtue out of necessity by accenting some joins instead of trying to hide them. Also, I have learned to cut pieces to fit, not always just using the whole piece as it exists. At least one time I have reformed my sewn piece as I just did noy like its new shape and the proportions of the pieces. Its a;ll very labour intensive.
I am pleased with the final pieces. They are so One of a Kind. I show them off on my Instagram page, handweavingbyjanet. and my Facebook page, Handweaving by Janet Whittam. These pieces take much longer than just weaving a total garment from one piece would have done. But, its so much fun, Finally I have to STOP and get down to real weaving (to say nothing of basketry! I must get back to that.). Biggest challenge is working on and filling my online shop, now connected to this website under…..Shop! just another project that I must get to. E-Commerce. Always another challenge!