My Journey of Learning How to Make a Raffia Basket

BizziePumpkin By BizziePumpkin, 14th Jun 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Antiques & Collectables>Textiles

The journey of making my first Native American styled raffia basket may not be an exciting one, but the techniques I learned will be with me a lifetime.

The Journey Began...

A couple of weeks ago I went to a primitive skills workshop here in Northern California. While there I had the opportunity to learn how to weave baskets made out of raffia.

There was an expert basket weaver who traveled from Washington state along with her son and daughter in law, that taught the workshop. I didn’t take the actual class that they had due to my other responsibilities, but the next morning I crawled up on the rock next to them and they were gracious enough to show me how.

The Lessons from my "Basket Mother"

I knew some basics, as my sister makes pine needle baskets all the time, but learned more about needle placement, and how to handle the raffia. I was taught many years ago that you had to wet the raffia to work with it, but now I know different. It works fine dry, right out of the package. I hadn't thought much about how I hold the needle or the angles at which it enters the coiling. With experimentation and some guidance from my "basket mother" I found that I need to keep that needle straight up and down to make the bottom flat and then angle the needle when turning the coils upwards to start the sides, and then keep that needle straight to keep the sides straight.

My Unfinished Basket

The photo is of the basket I started on that rocktop, which sits unfinished on my desk. It has several different types of raffia, including some artificial, that I had the opportunity to play with while learning the method. I don’t think I will ever “finish” it as I have moved on to a second and third basket which I am more pleased with. Yet this basket will remain, serving as a reminder that I don't know it all and have much more to learn.

I wrote about this experience also at Bubblews. Photo credit: J.Pedersen


Basket, Collectible, Craft, Native American

Meet the author

author avatar BizziePumpkin
I love life and enjoy living it! I am a single mother of four wonderful kids, work full time at a my sister's Trading Post, run my own business on the side and earn money online.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
23rd Jun 2014 (#)

A good attempt for a beginner for sure. Natural fibers are the way to go. Thanks for the share - siva

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