During the Dutch Design Week I was able to take a masterclass on invitation by Etsy. This masterclass was an initiative from the Dutch Crafts Counsil in collaboration with the Cultural Participation Fund and Etsy and was one of a series of masterclasses. Every day of the Dutch Design Week there was a masterclass in traditional techniques, for example gold painting, felting, Delft Blue painting.
The masterclass I got to take was basketry and was given by Esmé Hofman. Esmé is one of the few left in the Netherlands who practices basketry on a high level. She collaborates with designers a lot to create new products with traditional techniques. Her passion lies with fine skein willow work, this is a very fine basketry technique. Willow skeins are being cloved in three parts and then planed by hand on a special planingbench. The skeins used can be only 1 or 2 mm thick. Every object is braided around a model and is very time consuming. A braided basket can take up to 40 hours or more to make.
pictures Dutch Crafts Counsil
We got started on the principles of basketry. The cleaving of the skeins and braiding a simple basket.
The cleaving was meant to get the feel of it a little bit. A willow skein is a natural material with knots and turns. You had to pay attention or else your skein got so thin that it broke. Fortunately we didn't had to braid with the skeins we had cloved ourselves.
The skeins we worked with were about 3 mm thick. These had to be cleaned first to remove any leftover bark. Now we could braid the bottom of our basket. It was very important that all the holes were equal. Next we could make the corners by braiding on each side the middle skeins. Now we could place the model and braid the rest of the basket. It was a bit of a puzzle, but I got the hang of it and I'm not displeased about my first basket.
For the second basket the base was the same, only the braiding wasn't used diagonal but straight. Therefore the rest of the basket was easier to finish, around over under.
pictures et aussi
The basics are not very difficult, but the material is rigid and laborious and it's very time consuming. And still I had a very nice time, I'm even contemplating using this technique on one of my designs.
So many thanks to Ingrid from Etsy, who has made this discovery possible for me.