Baskets and Sailors Valentines by Brandy Llewellyn

The Process

A grooved, wooden bottom is attached to a mold. Tapered staves are inserted in the groove and brought vertically up the mold. Weavers are interlaced horizontally with the staves, from the bottom up. A wooden rim is attached to the basket. Polyurethane is then applied. Maple, cherry, oak, walnut, and various exotic woods may be used. For both the traditional and the non-traditional pieces, there are also choices available to personalize it.

Weaving a purse follows the same basic steps but the lid requires a mold as well. Handles are attached, along with knobs and latch. Purses typically have a decorative piece of bone, ivory, or polymer attached to the top.

In my tapestry creations, I use a variety of waxed linen threads woven into the piece to give the impression of landscapes and seascapes. I choose material which will reflect the theme of each unique basket. For the “Southwest” look, I use turquoise, agate, polished petrified wood, or other material to draw attention inside the basket as well. In other creations, I select a piece of scrimshaw and match the colors of the weaving threads to those in the scrimshawed piece. When possible, I like to incorporate natural materials such as the flower stalk (inflorescence) and the tendrils from the Queen Palm (coco plumosa) tree.

The general process described above provides the basics to Nantucket basket-making; however there is considerable time and expertise involved in creating a custom, one-of-a-kind, work of art