A basket is an attractive container usually made of stiff wicker or some other strong material and is typically made of a variety of synthetic materials, such as wicker, wood, bamboo, and even metal. Although most baskets manufactured today are made of synthetic material, other materials like horse hair, baleen, and plastic can also be used if desired. Baskets, which were initially used to carry grain in the fields, were also used as early as the 15th century as a method to transport food. Although the purpose was not specifically to store food, baskets have, over the centuries, proved an effective and attractive way to store and display goods.
Basket making has become increasingly popular and there are many styles of baskets available. The basic basket-making design, a flat basket on four legs, was probably developed in southern Africa where it was used to transport fruits, while more elaborate baskets, most likely those made in Europe, include handles, drawers, straps, lids, and covers. As basket-making techniques and materials have changed through the years, basket-making methods and materials have become more widely available.
One of the most common materials used in making baskets is manioc, a tough, fibrous natural fiber that is especially sought after because of its inherent durability. Other common materials used in basket making include reed, wicker, straw, bamboo, or grasses. Manioc is especially valued for its strength and because of the way it is woven. Wicker, which originates from West Africa, is a unique woven of colorful banana flowers that are commonly used in basket construction.
Basket-making techniques and materials tend to depend largely on what the basket will be used for. For example, food baskets may be constructed using fine, wide-gauge yarn that can handle the weight of fruits and vegetables. Cardboard pellets are also an inexpensive but popular material for basket-making. These small pellets are filled with pebbles or other type of natural stones and then attached to wooden frames to create baskets. Many people choose to construct their own food baskets from colorful natural fibers.
Although some materials and basket-making techniques have remained virtually unchanged throughout the centuries, other advancements in basket-making have been made. In recent years, weaving with synthetic fibers has become increasingly popular. This technique produces lightweight baskets that are easy to carry. Other advancements in basket making include the addition of lacing (in which one can use Velcro or other fasteners), and the addition of decorative materials like beads and seed beads.
Today, the market has produced a wide variety of materials and styles of baskets. With more consumers demand convenience, eco-friendly products, and artistic designs, the marketplace has proven very fertile for those with this talent. By using a combination of traditional techniques and eco-friendly materials, wearers of woven baskets can create amazing containers for all sorts of foods and household items. You’ll be sure to love every minute of the effort that you put into making a unique, one-of-a-kind container!