BASKET WORK WITH CANE AND SEAGRASS
WEAVERS of canes, rushes and straws to-day combine beauty of design with highly-skilled workmanship, so expert have they become in this very ancient handiwork.
All kinds of useful articles for the home can be made very cheaply, and the work can be done quickly.
White canes numbered according to their thickness. That most generally used for basket-making is the pulped or fibrous centre of the natural cane, which is easier to manipulate than the stronger brown cane known as palembang.
For weaving, a cane three times as fine as the cane used for the stakes must be chosen, or else a split or flat cane, as used in seating chairs. These canes are to be obtained plain, like the round canes, or glossy. The can also be had in lengths at twopence each in all colours, including gold, silver, and copper. As enamel is used, the effect of a border worked in these canes is very pleasing.
Round cane can also be bought in colours in medium thickness, and colour can be introduced into a basket with dyed and plaited straw, which is half an inch wide and very pliable.
For floor-mats, plaited rush can be bought quite cheaply in the natural colour, and also in other colours, and seagrass, which is tightly twisted to form a cable-like string about a quarter of an inch thick, is also to be bought in all colours for Is. And Is. 6d. A lb. Many useful articles can be made with any of these materials.
The essential tools
A sharp knife, a bodkin, and round-nosed pliers will serve for all purposes if tlun cane is used, but when a thick cane has to be cut special cutting shears costing about 3s. A pair are advisable, in addition to a stout short-bladed knife and a rapping iron.
Almost indispensable for any kind of basket-making is a slanting board on which to do the work of weaving. This board consists of a piece of planed deal ½ inch thick, 18 inches long, and 10 inches wide, with another piece the same thickness screwed on to one end at right angles, measuring about 4 inches high, and the same width as the board.
The advantage of having such a board is that it can be fitted with a thumb-screw in the centre, to pass through a hole bored in a wooden base, for a circular tray or basket, so that as the weaving progresses the base can be revolved without any trouble, and at the same time it is being held firmly and always in a convenient position while both hands are free to manipulate the cane.
It is quite wrong to try and make baskets or weave perpendicular sides of anything on a flat table. Even when making a flat cane mat, or a round base for a basket, a slanting board is more convenient to work on. For this purpose the slanting board would be turned with the low side next to the edge of the table in front of the worker, whereas when weaving a basket the high end would be brought forward so that the work is in the line of vision.
It is not absolutely necessary to pierce a hole and use a thumb-screw, as suggested. A bodkin stuck through the thin base- board answers quite well to hold it firmly to the slanting board, or a 2 or 3 lb. Weight can be inserted in the centre of the bnse to keep it steady. There are also screw clips to fasten to the edge of the board and catch the base of the article being made.