So there's this big leaf maple sapling growing right up next to a fir tree and we decided to cut it down. It's nice and straight—just right for making a stick arbor. The one I made several years ago is about to collapse. I know that sticks last longer if the bark is peeled from them, so I peel this big leaf maple sapling. And now I have all this lovely green bark to do something with. Why not make a basket? (You have to know that I really don't know much about basketry.)
I turn my big bread bowl upside down to use as a form and lay strips of bark across it. I weave other strips around those to form the base of the basket. I keep adding upright strips and weaving through them and pretty soon I have what looks like a basket. The bark strips have to be sprayed with water to keep them flexible.
I remove the basket from the bowl, and it looks pretty good. Only problem is the vertical strips (sorry I don't have the right terminology) are not long enough to weave a nice edge. What do to? I finally get the idea to bend them over and secure them in the weaving.
The next morning I have a few narrow strips of bark remaining which I kept wet in a plastic bag. These I weave around the edge. And now for the critique:
1. Even though I used a bowl for a form, my basket is crooked—7 inches tall on one side and 6 inches tall on the other. This is a problem I have with my porcelain and anything I make. I'm "symmetry challenged."
2. I should have used narrow bark strips on the bottom. The ones I used are too wide so they do not lay flat as the basket dries. In fact, all the wider strips have begun to curl lengthwise as they dry, which opens the weave.
3. But I am proud of myself for making this effort. It was fun and I learned a lot about the challenges of basketry.
If anyone reading this has made a basket you'd like to share a photo of, please email it to me and I'll post it for you—with a link to your website, if you want.