Updated: Jun 19
As a basket maker, I understand the excitement and inspiration that comes from seeing a beautiful basket made from a plant fibre that's not readily available in your area. We all experience that basket envy from time to time. But fear not! This is all part of the captivating story of basketry, where the plants you use become a unique expression of your craft. Let's embark on a journey of observation, exploration, and discovery as we delve into the world of plant choices for basket making. I have created a list of many plants to help you collect your own fibre - get your copy here.
Understanding Your Local Plant Life:
The first step in creating baskets that reflect your environment is to observe and understand the plants growing in your area. Each region has its own weather conditions, climate zones, and plant varieties. Take a stroll around your neighbourhood and start identifying plants that catch your eye. Categorising them by their structural characteristics can help you determine their suitability for basket making.
Categorising Plants for Basket Making:
In my online course, I've classified plants into different sections based on their structure. Let's explore these categories:
1.Long Leafy Plants:
These plants have long, slender leaves that offer flexibility and pliability, making them ideal for weaving. Examples may include bulb plants such as Daffodils and tulips. Then there is Watsonia, Chasmanthe, Crocosmia and Iris. These fibres are good for coiling and filling in a frame.
2. Leathery leaf plants
Plants with leathery leaves, such as New Zealand Flax, Yucca, Cordyline, Gymea lily and Agave attenuate provide strength and durability to your baskets. These leaves are long and fibrous, allowing for a sturdier constructions.
3. Woody-Stemmed Plants:
Certain plants with sturdy and flexible woody stems can be incorporated into basketry. These stems can serve as a framework or structural elements in your basket designs. Seek out plants like Willow, Wisteria and soft branches from fruit tree pruning. Vines are also excellent that offer both strength and pliability.
4.Rushes and Grasses:
Rushes and grasses are excellent choices for filling in your frame and coiling with. These plants can be found in wetlands or marshy areas and provide a variety of textures and colours for your work.
Choose grasses that feel nice on your hands otherwise you won't enjoy working with them. Once you start to collect them you'll understand what I mean.
Learning what grows in your climate
Living in a diverse climates like in the U.S. Europe and Australia, you'll encounter various weather zones and ecosystems. Depending on your climate, you may need to select plants that thrive in cooler, warmer, wetter, or drier conditions. Many species of vines grow all over the world and many are suitable for weaving. Even palms grow in areas other than tropical areas. Date palms grow in many climates and some are cold resistant up to -5’ Celsius.
Date palms also have interesting Palm inflorescences - so keep an eye out for them.
And you know what? You can even grow and use house plants if you live in a cold climate. I have a Dracaena Maginata where I save the leaves for my weaving projects and yes it might take a little longer to collect - but that's OK.
Creating baskets that reflect your surroundings and tell a unique story is a delightful journey of exploration. By observing the plants in your area, you can identify suitable materials for your basketry projects. Whether you live in a cool, temperate, subtropical, tropical, or arid climate, there are always plant options available to you. So, take a walk around your neighbourhood, connect with your local flora and let their fibres guide you in weaving beautiful, meaningful basketry projects. Happy basket making!
FINDING FORM WITH FIBRE is my book and all about Sculptural Basketry it
- Features fifteen basketry artists
- a detailed materials list
- many techniques to help you on your journey to create your own work.