Sunday, July 5, 2009

Applying Finish to a Finished (completed) basket

Another question I get asked often is about applying finish or varnishes to baskets. Of course these are just my opinions, ask 10 basket makers and you will get 10 different answers.
Weaver's Words July 9, 2006

In general you will want to leave your weaving materials unfinished and un-oiled. Anything that is going to seal your basket from the elements is also going to seal it from the moisture it needs to breath and remain flexible. Just like starch makes a shirt look nice, but wear out faster, so does finish on the fibers of a basket. Woven baskets, by their very nature, flex and move, any kind of hard finish is going to make the fiber stiff and more prone to breaking. About the only baskets that are traditionally "finished" are Nantucket baskets and sometimes coiled pine needles (but I don't prefer them to be). Oiling a basket (not tung oil or boiled linseed, which are actually finishes, but something like mineral oil) may seem like it would make the fibers more flexible, but oils tend to attract dust, which will also shorten the life of the basket. If you want to oil the handle or rims that is fine as they don't need to "flex" like the body of the basket. So in summation, it is better to leave your natural fibers (which reed is) just natural.
I will post sometime about how I like to finish my Nantucket baskets. It is a multi-step process, but I think gives a great result. Until then, happy weaving.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Martha Wetherbee Workshop 2009

Wow, I can't believe another workshop has already gone by. It seems like I was just getting the classroom area setup for Martha's classes and now it is time to get cleaned up and ready for JoAnn Kelly Catsos' classes that will take place at the end of the month.

As always everyone had a great time. It was blistering hot up until the last day, with heat indexes around 110 degrees. My air conditioning was running overtime and I am frightened to see what my electric bill is going to be this month, but at least we stayed cool. We had 15 students, including myself, taking two classes over four days. The first was a continuation of a series of nested Nantucket baskets and the other a larger version of a Bushwhacker basket we made last year. I finished up my nesting set of nine Nantucket baskets by making the smallest, #0, which was about 2" in diameter and woven with 1.25mm cane. I also made a 7.5" diameter Bushwhacker basket that my 5.5" basket from last year fits in nicely. I was very pleased with how both basket turned out, especially the Bushwhacker.

In the near future I should be posting all of my class photos on my main website with descriptions of everything we were doing.