Monday, January 25, 2010

Shaping Coiled Baskets

Shaping is something that takes time to understand and then to learn exactly how to do it. Many people do not plan their basket shape at all, rather allow the basket to dictate the shape. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I believe letting the materials have their own "voice" in a work is just fine. I do it all the time. If you are a basketmaker who is content with letting the basket take the lead, please do not apologize. But if you are a basketmaker who is ready to tell the basket what to do, this series is for you.

Making a "different shaped basket" does not take long to teach; BUT teaching a student how to make the shape THEY WANT usually does. It takes lots of practice for most basketmakers to envision a basket shape and then execute it. So please don't be discouraged if this method takes you time to master. You will probably need to make more than one basket before one comes out the way you planned.

In coiled baskets, needle angle is the key.

I have heard teachers (and seen books) say to place your coil where you want it, and then stitch it in place. This is essentially correct, but the assumption is that you know where to stitch. No matter how carefully you place that coil, no matter how hard you pull your binder, if you do not place your needle in the right place, your coil will not stay where you have placed it. The needle must enter and exit the coil at the proper point to support the active coil. This is where needle angle comes into play.

The next post will further describe the needle angle concept.

Please take the time to leave your comments, for us to discuss, by clicking the #comments below. You can choose “anonymous” from the list of options, if you do not have a google or other account that allows you to comment. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

I believe needle placement is very hard to teach unless the person or persons being instructed understand 3 dimension, and clearly many don't.
I use the place the coil where "you" want it method. 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.

This should be a great series! I look forward to Pamela and everyone's opinion on this.

Trek Across America said...

I totally agree with everything you said. After years of making baskets I still have trouble getting the exact shape I want, usually because I push the coil too far in the direction I want go. I have a hard time going slowly with just a little change in each new coil.

Subtly is called for and nobody has ever called me subtle! LOL


J. Anthony Stubblefield said...

I always think about shaping in relation to needle angle as you state. I always think of the needle being perpendicular to where I want the coil to be. Hmmm, that doesn't sound as clear as I hoped it would. Pam, I am sure your next post will be great.


Anonymous 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 also find making gradual shape changes difficult - even with lots of patience and careful planning.

Pam, I look forward to your insight.

Anonymous said...

Hello Pamela. I agree with you, the stitch position determines the shape. After 7 years of coiling, I still occassionally end up with a basket that's not the shape I intended it to be. I love your posts and hearing from other coilers. Waldena