Japanese Weave Spoke Basket
The Japanese weave is an easy method for creating a carrying container that is not only functional but is also artistic. The benefit of this type of spoke basket over the simple over and under weave is that you do not need to remove or add an additional spoke. For instance with the simple over and under weave if you start out with 5 spoke, and each spoke doubles into 2 spokes, you end up with 10 spokes. Since you can’t have an even number of spokes with the over under you either have to remove 1 spoke or you have to add 1 spoke. But if you’re making a Japanese weave basket 10 spokes is absolutely fine. However with the Japanese weave you cannot have spokes in multiples of 3. So if I started with 6 spokes which when doubled becomes 12 spokes it would not work with a Japanese weave.
The difference between the two types of weaves is very subtle. With the over under method of weaving, obviously, you weave the weavers over one spoke and under the next. But with the Japanese weave you weave the weavers over one then under two spokes or vice versa. It seems like a small difference but it creates a rather distinct visual difference. The Japanese weave appears to spiral around the basket giving it a rather unique look.
Let’s walk through this process together. The first step is gathering material. For this tutorial I’m going to use an invasive plant that is common around here, called Winter Creeper. Winter Creeper is an evergreen vine from Asia that was brought to America as an ornamental ground cover. It has escaped and naturalized over much of the country. It is flexible and easy to gather anytime of the year. I have an abundance of it growing near here so that’s what I’m going to use. You can use anything flexible that you have access to.
Now we need to separate out our thickest vines and cut them to shape to use as spokes. We can have any number of spokes as long as the number is not divisible by three. Now remember each spoke will be doubled over and used as two spokes so take that into consideration when figuring. For this tutorial I am using eight spokes which when doubled over will equal sixteen spokes. Sixteen is not divisible by three so the math works. I am making a small basket so I cut the spoke length at a little over a foot. Now we will take half of our spokes and cross them over the other half of our spokes making a cross with four spokes in each section. Holding our spokes in place, we take our thinnest vine and start wrapping around the spokes where they cross to hold them together. Two or three wraps is usually enough to hold them in place.
Now we begin the weaving process. With the Japanese weave the process is over one and under two or over two and under one. As we weave we also need to spread the spokes until all the spokes are about an even distance from each other.
Keep weaving out until the base is about the size you want for the bottom of the basket and then start bending your spokes up. Don’t make any dramatic bends or the spokes might break at this point. Just slowly bend them up as you weave. Not only is it safer to slowly bend them up but it also looks better in my opinion.
Now all we have to do is build the walls up as high as we want. While I’m making a pretty small basket in this tutorial, these baskets can be nearly any size or shape.
Once the walls are built up to the desired height, our final step is to add a rim. There are literally hundreds of methods for doing basket rims but I like to keep things simple. What I am doing is cutting the spokes off about three inches above the weave. Then bending each spoke around the spoke next to it and back into the basket at the next spoke. So I am skipping over the spoke beside the spoke that I am bending and shoving the remainder of the spoke into the next spoke. It’s actually much easier to do than it is to explain. Hopefully the pictures will show what I mean in a less confusing way. Once you have done that to all the spokes the basket is done. Of course you can add a handle as well but that is another lesson.
I hope that this tutorial has been useful to you and I would love to see what you create. If you have any questions or want to show off your creations, be sure to post them to our Facebook Group Sigma 3 Survival University. As always, don’t just survive, thrive.
Written by Joshua Hamlin 03/02/17