Jul 14, 2014

Bamboo Shikainami Basket

We are fortunate to have here in the Pacific NW of the U.S. abundant bamboo growing in yards, in farms, and in nurseries.  One of largest bamboo nurseries in Oregon is Bamboo Garden. They have more than 100 varieties of bamboo and have a well established grove of giant timber bamboo.  The Garden is just up the road from Issoan Tea School and we have taken field trips and learned about the life cycle of bamboo as well as taken a tour of the grounds to look at all kinds of bamboo.

This past weekend, they offered a bamboo basket making workshop taught by Stephen Jensen, who studied basket making at the Oita Prefectural Bamboo Craft and Training Support Center located in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Japan.

Stephen prepared the bamboo strips (it took him a couple of weeks to prepare them for our class), and in a couple of hours, Stephen led us through the steps to make a beautiful Shikainami basket.  It means four ocean wave basket.

The beautiful undulating top and open weave may look simple, but it took us a couple
of hours to finish.   He also provided a demonstration of preparing the materials and some examples of his more intricate work.   I am coveting his sumi kago or charcoal basket among others.

Below are some photos of the process of making this beautiful, simple basket.

 As I said the strips were prepared by Stephen and he had them soaking in a tub of water
to keep them flexible.  We started by laying out the 8 vertical strips
Then weaving the horizontal strips into a grid
checking to make sure the nodes were placed on top of the crossing strips
Then we squished them together to get the correct size of grid
Then we put little keeper strips to hold the grid in place
Then came the hard part of knotting the strips at the top of the basket

All four sides knotted
Here is my attempt after knotting
Then we tucked in every other corner
And wove in the strips of the other corners
Took out the keeper strips and finished our basket

I learned that you have to pay attention to place the strips in the correct order, and in the right holes as you are weaving.  I made mistakes and had to take them out and start again, going in the correct order and placement. Thank you Stephen for a great class.  I hope you will teach more classes.