A basket is usually a simple container made of woven stiff fabrics and is made of a wide variety of different materials, such as wood, wicker, cane, or plastic. While most baskets are made of natural plant materials, sometimes other materials like metal wire or horsehair can be employed. A basket may be used for many purposes. In the kitchen, it can provide extra storage space and handle items such as table linens and flatware. It can also hold delicate and fragile items such as costume jewelry.
There are several types of baskets, with different types having different characteristics and functions. Most commonly, they are made out of wicker, which is primarily used in basketry. There are two main kinds of basketry: plaited and woven. Woven basketry consists of a frame made of woven wood and the inside is typically filled with a solid material such as beads, seeds, yarn, sinew, or grasses. A plaited basket can contain a number of small holes but plaited baskets tend to have larger holes in the center so that the stuffing, if any, does not show through.
Woven baskets are often decorated with motifs made of animal hair. These can include crocodile skin, snake bones, elephant hooves, or the fur of lions, bears, eagles, rabbits, or dogs. The weavers use their own weaving tools to create these designs. Some weavers make use of simple items found at home to construct simple baskets. Other weavers turn to highly complex items made of expensive fibers or semi-precious stones.
Basket-making has become increasingly popular over the years due to its flexibility as a leisure activity. Traditionally, basket-making was done using raw materials from local trees or fields. These raw materials were gathered on a weekly basis by hand from the fields, where they were rotted and processed. This process of collecting and processing raw materials contributed to both quality and value of the final baskets.
Today, weavers use a variety of spinning equipment to construct fine weaves from a variety of pre-selected natural fibers. Basket fibers can be woven closely, loosely, unevenly, or at an angle. Spokes are used for adding variation to the basic woven pattern, which may be added to give an appearance of irregularities. There are several types of spokes, including basket-weave, sloping-woven, vertical basket-weave, and sloping-turned-woven.
The most widely used woven and spinners are flat-weave and sloping-woven. The flat-wrap weaves consist of six to eight evenly spaced and parallel spokes located along each edge of the main stem. The flat-woven is the simplest of all woven styles; it has no distinctive design and no identifiable pattern. The sloping-woven consists of six to nine individually wrapped spokes positioned along the length of one side of the main stem. The sides of these spokes are usually cut at 45 degrees, creating slanting sides of the basket.