Friday, February 13, 2009

The Gift Basket

This is a basket I made in the late 70's. It is based on a Native American gift basket used for weddings and other special occasions where a gift was given. There are three openings around the sides where small gifts could be tucked inside.

Not only does it have a long history of tradition, it has quite a personal history also. I didn't have the rope called for so as is usual with me, I winged it and used some jute I had left from a macrame project. While it resulted in the right proportions of size, it wasn't as stiff as it should have been. It was saggy! The saggy, baggy basket... This is one reason why it has a special personal history.

When I first made it, it had cowrie shells around the top with a fringe of shackle feathers below them and a string of small shells hanging in each opening and was the natural color of the jute. I thought it was pretty cool but I admit it was rather unusual.

It wasn't long after I made it that it had settled down to about a third of the original height... and the openings gaped wide, it looked horrid! The first thing I tried as a remedy was spray starch. It worked fairly well as long as the basket wasn't handled very much but that just didn't happen... I had some pretty ornery friends back in those days, they teased me a lot about my strange "creations"... I found the basket sitting upside down every now and then. It didn't really hurt it except to break the starch. I kept trying stronger cures...I mixed up a strong batch of liquid starch, the kind you have to boil, and soaked the sides of the basket in it for a couple of days... worked for awhile. Finally I used a long, stiff brush and painted the inside with glue.

The only problem with that was that you could see the dried glue on the inside of the neck. As will happen with me, one thing led to another and the picture above is the current version of the gift basket. It's pretty damn stiff now!