A couple of weeks ago we started back at City Lit on the second year of the Creative Basketry course. It was great to be back in the classroom with my fellow students again.

We spent the first two sessions developing visual designs and processing materials. In the first week we played with newspaper, seeing how many ways we could process it to try to create useable material for basketry. In the second week we each picked a bag at random and had to process whatever was inside to try to make a basket.

Inside my bag were two sizes of bubblewrap – not very promising, as it’s full of air and a bit floppy!

But as chance would have it, during the first part of the session my attention was caught by the technician, who was in the classroom repairing the heat press. So once it was fixed I decided to try flattening the bubblewrap in the heat press. It’s a bit tricky to see any difference in the photo below, but the wrap with the smaller bubbles (which was actually a double layer bag) did become a bit stiffer.

I then cut these into strips to create more layers and put them through the heat press again. I also added a layer of plastic bag to introduce some colour, as well as putting some jute between the layers. I tried making cordage too. The air inside the bubble wrap made it tricky to twist, so I spent a satisfactory few minutes popping the bubbles! I also experimented making cordage with bubble wrap and fine rush.

I used a combination of the strips to make a slightly wonky plaited basket. I initially tried twining the cordage around the base to keep it together, but the strips were too floppy to hold the cordage firmly in place and tended to buckle. So in the end I just used the strips.

I enjoy messing about with materials, so these sessions were right up my street. However, there are limitations when processing materials for basketry. Mostly you need to end up with something that is long and thin, for plaiting, coliling, twining, or weaving. In the wider world of textiles there is much more scope to work with flat sheets or more 3D materials.

But limitations encourage more creativity, right? 😉

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