A few weeks ago, a friend brought me a wonderful old basket that her grandmother used to use in her garden. She wasn't sure just HOW old the basket was, but since her father remembered his mother using it when he was a child, she said the basket had to be at least 70 years old!
She toyed with the idea of pitching it in the burn pile, but instead brought the basket to me in hopes that I could save it somehow.
The basket is a rib basket, and one of the sides was shattered and broken.
But the ribs were still intact, and the handle and hoop were in excellent shape, so it was just a matter of taking it apart and re-weaving it.
Here are some before pictures: (I apologize, the quality is not very good in some of them!)
The reed on this side was broken, and a lot of it was missing. The weavers had become VERY brittle over the years. As you can see, the ribs were in good shape. I'm not certain what they are made of, but they are some kind of wood, and I'm almost positive they are hand cut and carved.
The hoop (rim) and handle were lashed together with a bow knot...I had seen this technique but had never made any baskets using it. It's very easy to do, very simple and beautiful!
The bottom of the basket was woven with a slightly wider weaver, and the basket was flat on the bottom with fairly straight sides.
Taking the basket apart was no problem (haha)...and at first I tried to keep track of the ribs so I would know their placement when I started re-weaving, but after a few false starts, I gave up on that and just used my best judgement.
The handle piece was nailed at the join rather than glued, and it was also attached to the rim hoop with nails.
I have seen old baskets where the glue on the handle join dried out and came apart, so I was very impressed with the quality of this basket!
It was a bit scary doing this....I was afraid of breaking the ribs, but I need not have been! They were amazingly sturdy, and the points were nearly razor-sharp!
I didn't want to risk soaking them (and I'm not sure it would have helped since they were so hard), and although some of them were a little warped and "wonky", I just did my best to work with it.
My friend opted to leave the new weavers natural, and I think it looks pretty good!
It was an honor and a pleasure saving this old basket!