Make Your Own Twig Baskets

You can create your own twig baskets from easy to collect raw materials, including branches, vines, and palm leaves.

| May/June 1980

Woven twig baskets are ideal containers to use for stashing your gear neatly and conveniently. Unfortunately, the commercially available catchalls are often flimsy, monochromatic, and just a bit commonplace . . . not to mention expensive! You can, however, make your own beautiful hampers from free-for-the-gathering raw materials ... most of which you'll find growing in your own back yard. Twig baskets are not only simple to put together (you can assemble a medium-sized container—such as the one shown in the photos—in an hour), but they're surprisingly sturdy as well ... and will provide you with handsome stowage for years. Best of all, your handiwork will be uniquely yours . . . you won't find duplicates in the local dime store!

Stalking the Wild Vine

Thanks to Mother Nature and the variety of supplies she has to offer, your basketry will have a character all its own. You won't need fancy dyes to color the twigs you collect, since their bark will already be painted in natural shades of green, grey, brown, and red . . . each hue adding a distinctive touch to the finished product.

Just about anything goes when it comes to your choice of materials . . . most young branches or twigs will do just fine. A lot of vines are also ideal, since their long and pliable stems can easily be woven into a strong basket.

In addition, small deciduous shrubs usually sport long shoots near the bottom of the plant, and those sprouts will be especially long (and useful) if the bush is growing in a shady area. Other good weaving materials include palm leaves and the "sucker" shoots that spring from the stems of fruit trees. You might also look along streams and rivers for the long branches of willow trees . . . or even use split bamboo, if you're lucky enough to find a stand of the valuable plant.

Green or Dried?

The branches and vines you choose should be as long as possible . . . but they must be at least two feet in length if you want to end up with a basket of practical size. You'll need to cut a bundle of 30 to 50 young shoots, and strip off all the leaves and side twigs.

You can either work with the fresh cuttings right away, or dry the material for a few months and make the baskets later. If you do choose to "go green", you can whip up a container in almost no time at all . . . but beware! The branches will eventually dry and shrink, resulting in a looser weave. For that reason, a green basket generally isn't very sturdy ... it will be great to use for shelf storage purposes, but may fall apart if it's handled too much.
So when you need a more durable holder cut your twigs in advance and let them dry well. Then, before starting to weave, soak the brittle branches in water for about three days to restore their flexibility. (If the bathtub isn't available for that long, you can always use a galvanized tub to wet down the vines.)

Annie Manzi
10/17/2012 3:09:13 PM

I wish you had a video on how to do this

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