Katherine recently completed weaving this parrot cage. It was a commission for a customer in nearby Anacortes, WA. She has a parrot named Sparki who gets thoroughly upset if the people go outside on the deck for coffee and leave her behind in the house. So the idea was to get a basket to put Sparki in for the outside on the deck or in the garden. (Just to be clear – the parrot does not live in the basket.) The basket needed a lid so that Michele could open it to place a metal perch she has inside. The lid is woven tight so that the parrot doesn’t perceive any predator threats from above. It has a front door for putting in the parrot. It has side handles to carry it. The basket is a little like a fitched laundry hamper. The door and its opening did provide some technical challenge to make.
I know it sounds boring – a post about laundry baskets. But hauling laundry is one task that almost everyone has to do and a basket is still a good tool for the task. So why not choose a willow basket that is both durable and attractive. The oval laundry basket with inset handles is my favorite.
The basic round laundry basket with roped handles is based on a Swiss potato basket. Actually, many of the forms that Katherine uses for laundry baskets are influenced by the willow basketry classes that she took from Werner Turtschi. Werner is an excellent teacher who came to the Pacific Northwest a number of times. The great thing about the roped handles is that they can be replaced if they are damaged or wear out. By the way, “roped” refers to the technique not material of the handles.
Some people would like a larger basket to accommodate larger or more than one loads. The basket above was made for one of our neighbors who wanted many colors in the basket especially the purples and reds. She wanted a larger basket but her doorways made it necessary to go tall rather than wide. The basket below was made for a customer in Massachusetts who wanted a basket large enough to carry two wet loads of laundry back from the laundromat to the home clothesline.
Finally there is the square basket. These are very nice for the folded laundry, though they can be a bit large for navigating doors and halls.
After you get the basket for the laundry room, you’ll need a hamper for the dirty clothes!
Like always, you can find out more about Katherine’s baskets at our website.
Here are three recent willow magazine baskets made by Katherine. The basket is woven on an oval hoop frame and the stakes are scallomed on. The sides can be woven in a variety of weaves like the French randing above or the slewing below. The shape and lengthwise handle make it great for magazines, books, or newspapers. One customer was even using one to schlep her laptop to the office. But the original request was from a customer for a nice magazine basket to set aside a living room chair. It has evolved into a popular style available in different sizes.
P.S. More than just a magazine basket! This past Sunday we sold the middle sized basket to Mary and Jim because of the nice fit for carrying wine bottles. The smaller one went to a guy who was going to buy some cut tulip bunches to put in the basket and give it as a gift – a souvenir from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
What to do with those willow cuttings? Willows are usually propagated by planting hardwood cuttings directly in the soil. This method works especially well with willows grown for basketry and other garden uses. Dunbar Gardens sells cuttings about 11 inches in length like the bundles in the photo above. On the farm, I usually find that an 8 inch cutting is adequate.
I till the soil in advance and then simply insert the cutting into the ground with the buds facing up.
These basketry willows are planted in rows that are 32 inches apart and spaced 8 inches in the row. After the photo was taken, I trimmed some of these cuttings back to two or three buds remaining above ground.
Success rate on the willows generally is quite high. I have had some disappointments. For example, Salix purpurea x daphnoides does not seem to root quite as easily and S. purpurea ‘nana’ has very slender wood which makes rooting in the field more challenging.
A frequent question is what to do the second spring? I cut back most of our willows to within an inch of the ground level like in the above photo. This pruning will encourage the growth near the base. The stool is going to get a little higher each year that the willow is coppiced; so it is important to start low.