Technique: Basket Weaving
About The Technique
Many of the artisans we work with at The Little Market use weaving techniques to create beautiful handmade baskets and bags. In the Bolgatanga region of Ghana, West Africa, artisans weave beautiful and durable baskets from thick, tough elephant grass. Basket weaving around Bolgatanga in Upper East Region serves as an example of the craft skills of women in the north, and each colorful basket can take up to a week to finish.
The process begins by harvesting tall elephant grass from local fields. The straw is bundled together, then dipped into boiling water and natural dye to gain it its vibrant color. The weaver selects the proper pieces of grass for each part of the basket, then weaves from the bottom up. Finally, an artisan applies a tightly wrapped leather handle to finish the piece. A classic icon of African craftsmanship, Bolga baskets from Ghana are known for their durability, unique patterns, and vibrant colors.”
Samburu Basket Weavers create durable baskets from palm leaves in the pastoral communities of Ngurunit in Northern Kenya. The baskets are tightly woven, following a coil style, and are durable and watertight. Each hand-woven basket can take a female artisan up to one month to make as she also works on a variety of duties and takes care of her family. The female artisans incorporate traditional techniques and designs into each piece while also designing them for use in today’s modern home. Every purchase contributes to their income and improves their livelihood and respect within their communities.
Across the continent, off the east coast of Africa, artisans on the beautiful island of Madagascar weave stunning bags and baskets from natural, sustainable materials. Madagascar is famous for its colorful baskets and local men and women use them to carry their everyday essentials. The stunning patterns and colors are influenced by Madagascar’s vibrant culture. Family businesses work together to develop the products and the entire production process of each bag can take up to a week to finish. For products like the Tassel Beach Bag, created by artisans working with Mar y Sol, the process begins by weaving the inner basket. The inner basket is made from a natural sea grass-like fiber and the weaver selects the proper pieces of grass for each part of the basket. Next, the outer shell is woven from dyed sisal, adding beautiful and bright colors to the bag. Finally, an artisan applies organically tanned leather handles and the bag is finished off with a playful tassel made from raffia palm fiber.
Talented artisans in Laos, which is located in Southeast Asia, weave baskets and boxes that are beautifully made from bamboo. There are many different types of this fast-growing tropical plant located in Laos and in forests of Southeast Asia; bamboo is also used for different reasons, such as for constructing houses, building sheds for animals, and weaving everyday products like household goods and clothing. The plant’s shoots can be boiled and eaten as vegetables, the stem can be used for building materials like fences, and the outer skin can be used for making baskets, purses, and more. There is a traditional bamboo pattern native to Laos, and artisans can make different patterns based on the use. Patterns are carried through generations, and many patterns are woven to represent the Lao culture. The artisans who are making products at Saoban Handicrafts are Lao villagers, and their primary occupation is rice growing.