Inspirations: Basket Weaving

The ancient art of basket weaving is a practice that dates back to prehistoric times. Indigenous peoples wove vessels for utilitarian reasons as well as ceremonial. Baskets were used to store and transport goods, for trading, and later on, for furniture. Baskets are made from a wide variety of pliable materials such as rattan core, willow, grasses, hide, hair, and vines.

This Anasazi basket, 900-1400 AD, is made from yucca leaves.

This Anasazi basket, dated 900-1400 AD, is made from yucca leaves.

Because the material is degradable, we cannot know when basket weaving appeared in human history, the oldest known weaving date back  27,000 years though it is likely baskets were being produced prior to then.

The technique of basket weaving can be used in many, and larger, applications and when used architecturally, draws together the use of natural materials , a prehistoric technique, and modern applications. On  varying scales, the tradition can be applied to construct sculptural work or alter environments.

Andrea von Chrismar applies traditional Chilean techniques of willow weaving  to create woven membranes which transform the space.

Wicker Membranes by Andrea von Chrismar

Wicker Membranes by Andrea von Chrismar


Woven Membranes by Andrea von Chrismar

Woven Membranes by Andrea von Chrismar

Anne Marie O’Sullivan uses basket weaving to manipulate locally sourced ash and willow to mimic the undulating hills of South Downs in Great Britan in her installation, Cluster from 2012. Her sculptural approach encourages the public to walk around  and experience the form from all sides, to stand within it also and explore it as an enclosure.



Anne Marie O'Sullivan's woven installation, Cluster, 2012.

Anne Marie O’Sullivan’s woven installation, Cluster, 2012.

On a larger scale, basket weaving can inspire structure and form of structures. The concept of the Pompidou-Metz museum was birthed  from a Chinese hat that Shigeru Ban came across  in Paris. The caning technique used in this type of hat was translated into glued laminated timber which intersects in a hexogonal form to create the roof structure of the museum.


The caning of this Chinese hat is a traditional weaving pattern.


The caning pattern is applied on a larger scale  by Shigeru Ban to produce the roof form of Pompidou-Metz in France.

I respond to basket weaving for many reasons. Basket weaving is beautiful. It is purposeful, it is also sustainable. The material, while at one time an alive and growing plant, has an existential duality in a purposeful static form. The transformation of the shape  of the structure  as the weave progresses, the repetition of the weave throughout, and the strength of form that is created by uniting  the materials  all impress upon me a crescendo of rhythmic construction. We all likely  have an ancestral connection to  basket weaving,  it speaks to our common, historical nature.






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