Instructions For Basket Making With Grasses From 1916

The instructions below are for making baskets out of long grasses. These instructions and illustrations were originally published in 1916.

Basket Making With Grasses

The baskets are built of coils of grasses, each made of several strands of grasses, and upon the care with which the grasses are assembled and the turns of the coil joined to one another, depends the success of the basket. In gathering the grasses, pull long ones, because less splicing will be necessary with them.

To prepare the grass rope for the basket coil, lay together enough grasses of equal length to make a thickness a trifle less than the diameter of a pencil. Then grasp these grasses in your left hand, and taking a long strand of grass, wrap it around the bunch from stem ends to blade ends, bringing the turns close to one another as shown in Fig. 1. When you reach the ends of the grass blades, take another bunch of equal thickness and splice them on to the ends of the first bunch, lapping the ends about an inch (Fig. 2), and binding them together with the covering strand of grass (Fig. 3). An 18-inch rope is long enough to begin the basket with. Fig. 4 shows how to start a basket bottom. Coil the end of the rope over on to itself, to form a small button, and coil several turns of the rope about this; then with a coarse needle, threaded with the stem of one of the grasses, sew the turns one to another, using a plain over-and-over stitch.

Splice other bunches of grass on to the rope as you need them, and sew each turn of the coil to the preceding one, as you build. If you haven’t a coarse enough needle, you can use linen thread to sew with, instead of strands of grass. Draw the stitches tight, to make a firm structure, and, while building one turn upon another, pull in or spread them according to how much and where you want the sides of the basket to flare. When the rim of the basket has been formed, cut off the end of the coil, and trim back the grass blades to different lengths so the coil will bevel off on to the rim.

The basket in Fig. 5 has a handle, and the making and attachment of this requires explanation. A piece of wire – electric bell-wire will do – forms a center core of the handle, to give it stiffness, and several strands of grass are placed outside of the wire to add thickness; then all are bound together and concealed by a strand of grass (Fig. 6). To attach the handle, bend the end of the wire core around the rim of the basket, as shown in Fig. 7; and fasten the ends of the grasses to the rim, also. Fig. 6 shows a basket with another style of handle made in the same way.

Square baskets (Fig. 9) are not substantial unless reinforced by other material. The best scheme is to use a cardboard box as a foundation, and to coil the grass rope around the sides (Fig. 10), and glue it to the box. The inside may be lined with silk instead of grass.

Source: The Yale expositor. (Yale, St. Clair County, Mich.), 06 April 1916.