Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shaping Coiled Baskets: 2

The previous post introduced the concepts in shaping a coiled basket. Thank you so much for your comments. Thanks to Toni and Earl for telling us how they do it…and for the anonymous comments, as well. If you are leaving an anonymous comment, please remember to leave your name if you want it attributed to you! Thanks. (that gorgeous basket at right is by Carolyn Boxler.)

In addition to discussing this topic in my blog, we are also addressing it on the Pine Needle Group Yahoo Group email list. There, Leigh Adams said:

Baskets will go exactly where you want them to go....if you know that and are willing to do what it takes to keep the coil in place. It is the KNOWING that you can control the basket that can be critical to the process. On the other hand, ³dancing² with the form of a basket can be infinitely more pleasurable and satisfying an experiment than controlling it. Let the elements of play and whimsy guide you and don¹t be afraid to make mistakes.....it is in the freedom we give ourselves to make what are called mistakes that we find the forms and structures that are most pleasing to us. Often it is the ³mistake² that creates the most beautiful basket or sculptural form and it is not always in the traditional form that we do our best work.
Have fun!

Well, I could not have said it better myself. I agree with you 100%, Leigh. In fact, letting the “elements of play and whimsy guide you” is a good way to experiment and see what works and what does not. It is a great way to gain experience BEFORE planning a specific shape to a basket. Some wonderful techniques are discovered this way, as well.

So, now on to my thought method of shaping…

Yes, Earl and Toni and anonymous, i also use the perpendicular method, as shown in the diagram at left.

I think of it as stacking logs. Put your log where you want them to be. Because the log is round, it will just roll from the top of the log beneath it. How are you going to keep it in place? Think of driving a nail in the front of the log. You have to drive the nail exactly where the active (top) log rests against the bottom log, on both sides, or it can roll.

In our case, since we are stacking soft bundles, it is almost like we are stacking water balloons. The pine needles only form the coil because you are holding them together (or your gauge is, if you use a gauge.) When the support of your fingers or the gauge disappears, the individual pine needles will move to fill the available space. If you put your anchor or nail too far down on the lower log, the pine needles will spread out, and, depending on where they are fixed on the opposite side of the basket, may not take the shape of a log at all anymore, they will wrap around the lower log somewhat. They may spread out on both sides of the lower coil, and not build the basket in the shape you intended. The coil will flatten to fill the space between the two pins. See the diagram at left (you can click on it to make it bigger.)

So, to shape your basket the way you want, not only do you have to place your coil with attention, but you must also choose your two pin places to support the log's optimal position.

Sometimes you have to "bite" less of the coil to make the new coil stay where you want it to stay.

As a commentor said in the previous post:

The needle is then placed to enter the coil just below the new fiber bundle being stitched and to come out at the base of that fiber on the opposite side of the work(whether high on the coil or low). The stitch should be snugged down before removing and finger pressure holding things into place. As long as your needle angle is following the curve of coil placement you should have the correct needle angle to hold your new coil right where you want it.

That’s exactly what I mean, thank you for expressing it so articulately!

Another anonymous commentor said:

I too think of the needle/stitch as being perpendicular to the direction I want the coil to go - but the resulting shape is always more vertical than I want. I just assumed it's because pulling the stitch tight, in a circle around the basket, causes the coil to flex inward toward the center of the basket. I've tried to make shallow shaped baskets but they end up much more vertical in shape than I intended.

I think it is probably NOT because you are pulling your binder too tightly - rather because you are not stitching closely enough to bottom of the bundle, and allowing it to relax inwardly. try stitching VERY close to the bottom of the coil, OR even a little higher than you think it should be, and please let us know what happens!

More on basket shaping in the next post…please take the time to leave your comments on needle angle and shaping on this blog, by clicking the #comments below (or on post a comment at the very bottom, in some views.) You can choose “anonymous” from the list of options, if you do not have a google or other account that allows you to comment….but don’t forget to add your name at the bottom! (at left, by K. J. Hartsog) Thanks!


Donna in WA said...

Pam, the drawings help support what is written here. However, for those people who are just starting out, even more basic drawings would help. I have a friend whose daughter wanted to learn pine needle basketry, the drawings that I made to illustrate needle placement are similar to the ones I put in my album in the Pine Needle Group.

If I left out the idea of putting an imaginary anchor out, she grasped quite easily the exact location to put her sewing needle.

I do enjoy reading your blog.

niftyknits said...

Who would have thought that reading about someting I have no plans to ever try could be so fascinating? You're a natural teacher :-)

J. Anthony Stubblefield said...

Your diagrams are perfect, that is exactly how I visualize it when I coil.


Amg-Arts said...

Loving the photos of the baskets on here the first one on top her is fab!