A week on Rope Coils….
Continuing to work on baskets for Christmas orders and having a couple of Rope Coils on order I decided to spend the rest of the week working on others for stock. Still love making this robust, chunky, arty style of basket. Not quite sure where the technique itself originates. The weave I was first shown was a 5 rod wale, in front of 3 behind 2 and I made a small round bowl shaped basket, nowadays I tend to play around with the weave and try all sorts of waling, pairing and packing combinations.
Back in 2004/5 I was in B.C Canada running courses and had also taught some classes over the border in Washington State. I’d been staying with Katherine Lewis, a basket maker from Mount Vernon and spotted a rope coil basket in her house. We travelled back to Canada together as Katherine was to attend another of my courses on Salt Spring Island. After the courses we had a spare day and she agreed to teach myself and others the technique. We had a great day and it struck me afterwards just how far techniques in basket making can travel. Katherine had learned the weave in Scotland from a Danish basket maker, I had learned it in Canada from an American. I have gone on to teach it in the U.K and here in France, adapting and changing some elements but fundamentally still waling one way or the other, in front of 3, behind 2, in front of 4 behind 2, et cetera, et cetera. You can play around with it by going under with the wales instead of over and adding packing in different places around the basket to alter the height and give the basket some “movement”. I aim for asymmetry in these baskets so I try and twist them around a bit early on, again this I think, gives the basket a sense of motion.
The weave might be better called “wave weave” than rope coil but whatever you choose to call it it’s lovely to do and produces a striking effect in the finished work. The baskets themselves are very time consuming and use a huge amount of material. Every stroke that is made a willow is added and to support the weavers the basket is also double staked. To finish, each border is laid differently, according to the shape at the top. It’s true to say every Rope Coil Basket is unique.
I will be putting the baskets still available to buy on the Shop Page under specials so if you’re interested do have a look.