Woven Wallpaper Patterns

The definition of basketry is the art of making baskets, utilizing various creative techniques, such as weaving, coiling and plaiting. The materials used in these techniques vary from reed, pine needles, rush, ash, twigs, roots, strips of hide, osier willows, bamboo splits, cane or rattan, raffia, grasses, straw, or other wood splints. Basketry is one of the earliest known art forms. Some may even call it ancient. Methods of weaving done by Egyptians are still being used in Africa today.

Hundreds of years ago, the number of craftsmen employed and the output of their labours must have been immense, but the humble status of the basketmaker has all but disappeared. In practically every instance where today one needs cardboard, plastic or plywood for packing material, two hundred years ago this need would have been met by wickerwork. Fruit and vegetables were gathered from the fields into baskets; fish, poultry and dairy produce were all packed into wicker for the journey to the town markets. Jobs requiring the transport of bulky materials such as manure or rubble needed baskets, and not only were rural items such as animal muzzles, bird traps and beer strainers made of willow, but so were travelling trunks, hat boxes and umbrella holders of the well-to-do.

Decline of the basket trade has continued throughout the twentieth century for many economic reasons. An economy in which time has much value and quality very little has no place for a durable product that is extremely labour-intensive. Moreover, where the use of wicker and similar materials has still been viable, the cheapness of foreign labour has often led to basket importation primarily from Asian countries. Today, accomplished basketmakers are few, although workshops throughout the world still produce articles of a robust nature superior in strength to importations. Moreover, there are many large commercial basket-weaving establishments worldwide, but basketry is still a popular home industry and is taught in schools and as occupational therapy in hospitals.

The various designs for baskets have been driven by the variety of end uses. Baskets have been used for religious functions, household furnishings, cooking utensils, storage vessels for food and water, traps, boats, articles of dress and adornment, and granaries, just to name a few. Today we are still developing designs as more new uses are thought of. A popular new basket is called a step basket to be used on a stairway. Examples of basketry can be found in every culture but, whatever the end use, baskets have been and still are an expression of culture and art.

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