Towards the end of 2015 I began to play with the idea of combining rush and willow where the handle bow is already dried into it’s final shape and the main body of the basket is woven about this. The two baskets featured were the results, one twined in rush and the other more stake and strand in willow, but both worked from a bunched or grouped and bound start at the base. The final overall shape resembling a hazelnut -hence the “Nut” title.
The “Arc” name came from creating a wider version with a definite horizontal at the base between the two ends of the broader handle bow. I created this with a willow rod drilled and ear lashed to the bow and then by attaching rushes folded into hairpins and then “larks head” lashing them to the horizontal.
This is Nut No2 and shows the handle bow in place with it’s two ends sprung together by a fine willow rod forming a lashing that creates an opening into which the initial rush stakes are fed.
The stakes are bunched flat as tight as they can be so to close the base of the vessel and negate no additional stakes needed too early once siding has commenced, emphasising the taper.
A 3 rod wale in very fine weavers began the siding about 1 inch above the lashing and including the willow handle bow as if it were a stake. Care was taken to keep rows of weaving close to each other and to take stakes in order and not let them tangle or overlap.
After 6 or so rows the width increases and the need for additional stakes had to be tackled. Rather than them being discreet I wanted to add texture drawing attention to the cell structure at the cut ends so just laid them in pairs and waled about them as a pair. They were spaced out evenly with one pair centred and the other two either side separated by original stakes. The pairs were opened and treated individually the next time around with the 3 rod wale.
The weave was kept close and tight by consistent tension and by using the threading tool between each stake and when adding in new weavers to reduce bulking and bulging in the surface new rushes were inserted behind old butt or tip (as you would with a willow join) and NOT A HAIRPIN. This was very effective in hiding the joins and keeping the smoothness of body as the wale was now 4 rod and helping to give a curvier form.
Additional stakes were added on each side and the whole process repeated again further up the vessel as it flared. The weight of weavers was increased and flower heads were left on to add texture and colour contrast to the smooth waling. A further 8-10 rows waling increasing gradually the weight of the weavers it then felt right to commence a trac border :this was only possible because of planning ahead and having stakes long enough. Folding the stake away and to the right at an angle of 45 degrees from the top wale behind 1, in front of 4, behind 1, in front of 1, finishing on the inside behind 1 stake and being trimmed to overlap 2 stakes. As the border is executed care was taken to keep the tension even to allow the long sweeping stitch to sit well in relation to it’s neighbour, and to form the top as even as possible and the same measure above the top wale.
When starting a trac border I find it’s more effective to begin higher than you actually want to finish so the tension gained as you pull more down into the border sets the correct natural height; it is also easier to thread away into slightly larger spaces and then tighten and pull down the start.
This is of course the Nut basket in a nutshell and there are many variations on this theme that will appear in the gallery as they happen.