Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Transformed Treasures 2010 - Reed & Twine Basket

Although I had purchased several materials earlier this winter with my Salvation Army vouchers, I only had time to make one item for their auction before my month long vacation to North Carolina.  I've been home nine days.  After a whirlwind of unpacking, cleaning, straightening, grocery shopping and miscellaneous tasks, I retreated to my studio and felt like I'd truly gotten home!  Time is running short.  The final turn in date for auction items is April 9th.  I hope to complete one more art piece before that deadline.

I'll be the first to admit I am not a basket weaver so this 'creation' was strictly done on a wing and a prayer.  Here is a photo of the bundle of reeds I found in the Salvation Army store.  There were roughly twenty single lengths coiled in the bundle.  I used all but four. 
Originally I'd intended to decoupage colored tissue paper to the coils but quickly discovered the tissue disintegrated with handling and the reeds had to be soaked in order to manipulate them.  Okay, Plan B...

I created a base frame with six coils, the first four formed a square grid which I secured with copper wire at the intersections.  Two remaining coils were placed on the diagonal from corner to corner not only for the added strength but to provide more vertical supports for the subsequent weaving of the basket shape itself.  (the jute bottom was woven in prior to finishing the top of the basket)
Soaking the coils was paramount in allowing easier weaving and tightening of the coils with out breakage.  Once the bottom was large enough to satisfy me I wove in some thick yet supple fiber rope.  I've no idea where it came from or what its content is?  I just wanted an organic feel to the basket.  More stability was created by more rings of reed weaving, then a repeat of fiber rope.  The basket would have been boring without this different color and texture.
A few ideas on finishing the basket were quickly dismissed.  If I added another layer of reeds the basket closed in more than I preferred.  When I gathered the verticals to create a handle it closed off the opening too much.  If I cut the vertical reeds even with the top it would have allowed the fiber rope to unravel.  Hmmmm   So here you see my alternative solution... loop the vertical reeds back down the sides supports and all the way through the basket base.  Unfortunately one of the verticals snapped so I alternated a blank spot between three sets of three loops around the top edge to help camouflage this  'happy accident', thereby enhancing its strength and unconventional form.  Since I went with a neutral color I felt texture was even more imperative.  Jute twine anchors the fiber rope and reeds together and clipping the twine longer adds a funky organic feel to the overall impression.  True basket weavers are probably laughing but this basket is sturdy, practical and artistic in the right setting.  Hopefully someone will love it enough to bid on it.

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