Willowbark baskets

This is a small video of working with willowbark basket. We had a visit from London, and Oliver made this beautiful introduction to willowbark work. Enjoy!

You are most welcome to contact me if you have any questions about willowbark courses.

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Open French Baskets

The French open basket is a majestic and beautiful basket. For the untaught eye this seems like a simple basket. But the fact is that this is one of the hardest one to make.

It cost more sweat, tears, blood and swearing than actually money. These baskets are made with split 2 year old willow for bystakes. In this way I get interesting color combinations – either by the willow itself or by coloring the stakes in dye. By adding more or less stakes you can drastically change the shape of the basket.

I learned this particular basket when i took a class with my favourite basketmaker in Denmark- Bent Vinkler.

Open french basket
2 Open french basket.
Open french basket by Silja Levin - details
Open french basket – details
4 open french basket by Silja Levin
4 Open french basket in line

Twill Baskets

I love trying out new materials and combine new weaving technics.

My big thing right now is to make willow skeins or willow splinters. Willow bark baskets I have made for several years. Every spring I harvest bark from different trees in the forest and since I grow willow, the bark is easy to come by. I always use bark from trees that are at least 2-5 years old.
The copper wire is something I picked up at a scrapyard­ metal shop. It is a very different material to work with; soft and a bit challenging at the same time.
With the willow-splinters I’m able to make bigger and more solid baskets than the bark baskets can be.

 

Twill basket by Silja Levin
Twill basket with cats-head base, willow-bark and leather
Twill basket by Silja Levin
Ash bark on willowsplinters, with copperwire and spruce-roots.
Twill basket by Silja Levin
Colored splinters and bark, copperwire and willow.
Twill basket by Silja Levin
Colored splinters and bark, copperwire and willow.

A basket is born

I have always wanted to do baskets like the shaker baskets in America. But I don’t want to use reed from Asia. I wanted to use willow which is my main material.

This summer I had a nice visit from Russia. I had bought 4 skein planners and the man who made them, offered to deliver them in my place, because he wanted to see Norway! With these skein planners, I have many new opportunities for making new weaving materials for my baskets, than I had before.

Through a lot of trial and errors, and lots of experimenting, I am now getting a little closer to what this planers can be used for. Splitting willow and other three types is an old basketmaker tradition all over the world.

In Norway we had a traditions of splitting willow, ash, hazel and juniper for basket materials. But to actually meet people nowadays who can make splints of wood is hard to come by. Its much work making this splinters, and with a planner much of the labor intense work is done.

Norsk versjon:
Sist sommer fikk jeg 4 pilehøvler fra Russland. Så dette halve året har vært en reise i en ny fletteteknikk og å lære seg hvordan jeg kan forberede et nytt material. Etter massevis av prøving, feiling, og eksperimentering er jeg litt nærmere å forstå prosessen i å lage sjener eller splittet materialer.

Det å splitte pil og andre typer tre er en gammel kurvfletteteknikk over hele verden. Her i Norge splittes hassel, ask, einer, selje og pil. Denne typen fletting med var en vanlig flettemetode i Norge. Men i to tiår uten utøvende kurvmakere – utdannet eller ikke – er den tradisjonelle måten å lage en kurv i splittet material nesten glemt. Og de som gjør det ennå kjemper for å bevare denne rødelistede kurvflettemetoden.

Prosessen med å lage sjener av pil er litt annerledes enn å splitte en einer. Pil som er 2-5 år gammel deles i tre deler med et verktøy vi kaller en klyver. Først høvles margen vekk, som er relativt porøs i pilen, deretter splittes disse trekanter i to igjen. En håndhøvel eller kniv brukes for å lage sjenene jevne. Når det gjelder fletting av den tradisjonelle kurven er jeg foreløpig for rastløs. Jeg elsker å kombinere teknikker og materialer. Derfor ble dette en kurv flettet med flate sjener, kombinert med naturlig sort pilebark. Kobbertråden er spunnet dobbel, Noe som gir en fin effekt når den er flettet. kanten er laget av vanlig avbarket pil, lagt i en koil og beviklet med lærsnor. Jeg gav kurven et organisk uttrykk, noe jeg synes fungerer fint.

kurv-med-kobber-naerbilde

kurv-med-kobber

Here is two small movies of the proses of my basketmaking.

Twill basket from Kurvmakerskolen i Norge on Vimeo.

Splitte og høvle pil / Splitting and planning willow from Kurvmakerskolen i Norge on Vimeo.

 

Square basket – Journeyman

In the winter of 2011 I got my Journeymans letter. After three years of practise and taking classes with the best basketmakers in Europa, I was ready for my examination as a basketmaker. In one week my task was to make a square basket, with lid, bridge and handle.

In my apprentice time I took a class with Rainer Groth- a well-known basketmaker from Germany. The German way of basket-weaving is very different from the English og the French baskets.  I call me self a freestyler basketmaker, but when it comes to the square baskets, there are strict rules to follow. But then again you get very accurate and nice square baskets.

Journeyman basket by Silja Levin
My basket i made on my basketmaker exam.
Square basket for linnen by Silja Levin
Square basket for linnen

3 bags and a backpack

Norsk Husflidslag have a competition every second year for professional artisans, craft persons and artist. This years competition was called Identitet “Ide i Tet”.

I got awarded for 4 baskets. The baskets i participated with, is the series of backpack, creel and two bags
– Eir – Lin – Sol – Var

They all have wooden bottom, and leather lids and straps.
With this I got the third place.

With different willow, and color on the leather the baskets can have many different expresions. More and different basket of the series will come later

All baskets by Silja Levin
Eir – Lin – Sol – Var, 3 bags and a backpack
All baskets by Basketmaker Silja Levin
Eir – Lin – Sol – Var, 3 bags and a backpack