One of Monica’s nansa baskets

Earlier this month I spent nearly three weeks in Germany, attending a couple of workshops and visiting some basketry museums and the Lichtenfels basketry fair. These will be the subjects of my next few posts.

The first workshop I did was with Monica Guilera, a Catalan basketmaker who makes, among other things, beautiful openwork willow baskets (see image above). She uses the nansa technique, which she has adapted from the technique that Mediterranean fishermen used to make their fishtraps and baskets. It involves knotting rather than weaving, but is more difficult than it looks! 🙂

You start with a hoop, to which you attach pairs of stakes in a grid structure.

As with all bases in basketry, it’s really important to set these up correctly in terms of spacing and alignment – otherwise it causes problems when you do the sides, as I discovered!

Once the base is complete, you then start knotting in rounds to form triangles.

You can choose to keep it flat, or to pull the stakes more vertical to create a bowl shape. I found it tricky to maintain a bowl shape at the same time as focusing on the knotting, so I went for a halfway house – more like a shallow dish.

The border, for once, was relatively simple. Half of the stakes are bent down to form a bundled border, the ends of the remaining stakes are cut off, and another bundle of stakes is woven on top to hide the ends.

You can see in my basket above that I should have added another set of horizontal stakes at the top of the base. This would probably have avoided having some overly large triangles in that area. My spacing between the rounds went a bit wonky in that region too.

Overall it’s a very satisfying technique, and everyone left the workshop happy with their baskets.

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