Back in July I wrote about some of the things I had been making for my own home and mentioned I was working on a log basket - it is now finished.
Perhaps you are getting the message from this, and from previous posts, that, for me, good design is about making the daily tasks in life easier and more enjoyable and not about making more housework.
In my stock of collected materials I found a pile of pressed card beer carriers. They came around bottles of German beer and are strong enough to hold and carry 3 litres of beer in glass bottles. I haven’t used them for anything before, which presented me with an interesting challenge, and the bright yellow design seemed ideal for the kitchen. But the carriers when opened up were not very big, so for plaiting they would have to be joined. I experimented with different ways of joining the strips and in the end decided that stapling would be efficient and quick. It seemed more honest to use staples than glue. The strips were cut quickly with a paper cutter, stapled into long lengths and then plaited into a square based basket. Various decisions had to be made about how to staple the strips together, in terms of the design on the card, and then about what order to weave them in. I also considered which way to staple the strips so that the overlap could be pulled through the weaving. I only tell you this because you would not know about these things just by looking at the finished piece! A layer of black strapping tape was then woven in on top of the strips adding protection for the card and making the pattern more defined.
Some time ago I developed a way of using bunched willow for borders on plaited baskets. I decided to employ this technique again because it works really well and you don't have to soak the willow (always a bonus in my book). The woven card basket, when it is only cut and stitched at the top edge, is still quite floppy but once the willow is attached it becomes tensioned and strong. It seems as though you will never get the two ends to meet in anything other than a pointed leaf shape, but when they finally do, it forms into a perfect ring and the basket becomes very solid. The process is a bit magical and I always enjoy doing it.
That left the handles and feet to resolve. The handles were made with two pieces of electric cable with the outer casing stripped off the ends of the wires. These were then threaded through the border to attach them. I decided that feet were necessary to protect the base of the basket from the tiled floor and used black plastic lids from coffee jars that had been given to me. I riveted these on to the base, one in each corner and one in the middle. I could have stitched them on but that will be the back up if, for any reason, the rivets fail.
When I put the basket in place and took a photo I was quite shocked to realise that my choice of technique and colour scheme had not been my decision at all. It had, in fact, been decided for me by the Scottie dog and the Mexican tiger that have stood on the shelves above the log basket for several years!