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The Materials

Processing wood into fine weaving materials is a time consuming endeavor. For Eric’s baskets, it all starts with the black ash tree.
Black ash is unique among all trees in North America in that it does not have fibers connecting the growth rings to each other. This is wonderful for basket making. By pounding the length of a black ash log, the spring wood is crushed, allowing the summer wood to be peeled off in long strips. These long strips are split in half, in a process called ‘splitting to satin.’ Next, these strips are sanded or scraped clean. The final step is to pull these strips through a bank of knives making them uniform in width. These pieces are now ready to be woven with.







slitting
Mold Making

Every element of one of Eric’s baskets is made using a molded system to insure complete symmetry. Before the weaving process begins, various molds are made for a single basket; a body mold, two rim molds and a handle mold. First, wood is cut into pieces, then glued and pressed into blocks and finally shaped into the forms needed by using sanders, lathes and other tools.   

Body Molds

handle Molds

rim molds

Finishing

(more info to come)

 

Weaving

Once the materials are processed and a wooden base is attached to a mold, the basket is ready to be woven. The basket is started by placing strips called uprights or staves into the base. Black ash weavers are then tightly woven around the uprights until the basket reaches the top of the mold

weaving

weaving

Handle and Rim Making

Steam bending or boiling wood is a process that allows hardwoods to be shaped and fitted around the forms, creating pieces that are used to develop the skeleton of the basket. Bending wood into handle and rims involves years of experience in wood preparation and bending knowledge. It begins by carefully selecting wood with straight grain and ripping it into smaller strips. These strips are then ready to be boiled or steamed until pliable and quickly bended around forms where they are left to thoroughly dry.

steam bending

steam bending