Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Square Bushwhaker Basket

13" diam. x 6.5" high without handle
This is the most recent addition to my basket collection, a beautiful Bushwhacker basket. What makes this basket extra special is that unlike most Bushwhacker baskets which are round this basket has a square plaited bottom transitioning into a round rim. Even with the unusual shape it does feature the signature Bushwhacker swing handle.
9" x 9" base
 By the nature of a plaited base there are holes left in the weaving, but to eliminate these the maker "filled" the bottom with extra pieces of splint. Bushwhackers were unusual basket makes in that they used any weaving material available to them and would mix woods freely. They would use black ash, white oak, hickory and occasionally maple. This basket is definitely a mixture of woods. I believe the weaving is of white oak and the base/uprights are possibly hickory. What is apparent in the photo above is the contrasting black ash used to fill the base. Not only is the color of the ash different the satin finish of the splint is obvious next to the rougher hickory (or less likely white oak).
Swing handle ear detail
The swing handles of Bushwhacker baskets are a signature of this style. The "ear" or hinge portion of the handle that inserts into the rim is shaped like a clothes pin and spans the rum from inside to out. Because of the relatively sharp bend of the ear you will almost always see some cracking of the material. I am not sure if this happens during the initial construction of the basket or happens over the years of the life of the basket. Another feature of the handle is the square notch above the hinge hole.
Rim detail
Another signature style of a Bushwhacker are the heavy rims. The rims are usually made of white oak, but will almost exclusively be double lashed with black ash.