The finished pine needle bowl

Finally, A Wooden Basket!

64 Arts, Projects

Well, mostly.

I still haven’t gotten my hands on actual basket-weaving reeds, canes, etc. BUT! While I was searching for inspiration and instruction, I came upon this tutorial for a nifty pine needle basket, and that’s one supply I’ve got plenty of.

Pine Needle Basket/Bowl with Blue Ribbon

We have a pine tree next to our driveway, on my side of the driveway, and one time when I went to get my oil changed the dude who popped the hood ended up having to carve away 3 months of pine needles (okay, okay, more like 5) that had scooted under the windshield-edge of the hood. Oops!

No, I didn’t save those pine needles, but I did take a trip out into the yard before Todd got out the lawnmower and collected a bag of the longer pine needle boughs for this very purpose.

I’ll leave it to the pro to explain all the fiddly details of the process (seriously, her pictures are fabulous, why reinvent the wheel?) and please note that this is intended to be a kid’s craft project, so there’s no excuse for you not trying it, too 😉 Here’s my abbreviated version.

First you have to soak the needles, because by the time they’ve  fallen down to earth they’ve gotten pretty brittle, then lay them out to dry a little, but not so much they become brittle and you have to start all over again.

Pine needles drying

I pressed a bit of paper toweling over the tops to speed up the process a smidgen.

Starting off the bottom center is probably the fiddliest part, but once you get the wrapping started it’s not so bad. I used 5 pine needle bundles (opting to leave the needle caps on) at a time and it was a very workable amount.

Wrapping the center section of pine needles, to start our basket

Once you get your stitching started, the center coils go pretty fast. The bunches of needles are super-easy to sew through and sooner than you expect you’ll have your base well underway

The woven base of the pine needle basket

I couldn’t find my raffia–I KNOW I have some somewhere–so I just pulled out a partial spool of thin ribbon to use. It worked fine and the contrast is actually nice. (Of course, you can also see how uneven my stitches were as I went along, but, hey, that’s transparency in this day and age, right?)

To start building up instead of out, start angling your pine needle bunches more on top of the previous row, rather than out to the side. If you want straight sides, place the needles on top of each other, but if you want a gently sloping side, go for more of a diagonal placement.

Forming the sides of a pine needle basket or bowl

You can start to draw the needle bands in tighter (diagonally to the inside edge) to create a narrow neck or a lip for keeping small bits in. I, however, ran out of ribbon so decided to leave mine as simply a saucer.

The finished pine needle bowl

A little bowl like this took maybe an hour, hour and a half tops, to construct (I was catching up on some DVR dramas and it was definitely less that 2 shows) and could work as a small change valet, or even a place to set your rings next to the sink. And (because I’ve got weddings on the brain–I bought my dress last week!), this little test basket would also be perfect as a ring-warming dish if a bride and groom were using that as part of their ceremony–it would be so easy to use ribbons to match the color scheme!

Okay, I have one more basket weaving project up my sleeve, if I can get the necessary supplies by this weekend. If not, we’ll come back to at some point and move on to our next art.

Anyone going to give pine needle baskets a go? I’d love to see your pictures if you do!

Halfway woven mini-egg basket

Another Partial-Paper Basket

64 Arts

I swear, one of these days I’ll graduate to weaving with actual wood, but for now I’ll stick to my preferred mediums of paper and fabric. At least this project bears a closer resemblance to the spirit of the art we’re working on.

My mini-Egg Basket of Paper Twist and Ribbon

I used the free instructions from The Basket Weavers Catalog for their Small “Egg” Basket, making my basket about half the size of the example, so mine’s a mini basket.

For the hoops I used hunter green paper twist, as it, straight out of the package, secured with a bit of Tacky Glue at the ends.

Hoop and ribs of a mini-egg basket, made of paper-twist

For the lashing or “God’s Eye” I used the same paper twist, but untwisted it and cut the crinkled paper into quarters, lengthwise. First I tried it with ribbon but it didn’t have enough oomph–I suppose I could have used a wider ribbon, but the sturdiness of the paper twist was really what was called for. Retwisting the paper twist strips I’d cut down made the perfect width for the ribs, also glued-in behind the God’s Eye.

And can I just take a moment to tell you how much nostalgia hit me making the God’s Eyes? Did anyone else have boatloads of these around their room after learning them at camp or some after-school program? Obviously I did, though I’m glad to know there was a semi-useful skill learned by it, not just keeping hands busy.

Halfway woven mini-egg basket

Finally, instead of round reed for the actually weaving, I used 2 shades of green skinny ribbon and a tapestry needle. I found the needle made the ribbon-weaving easier, especially when it was time to tuck the ends into the previous rows to finish each ribbon.

The one big lesson I took away from the little project is that you start at each end and work your way into meeting in the center. Without the directions, had I been hacking through it myself, I probably would have worked from one end to the other and wondered how in the hell to get the end looking nice and neat.

See, sometimes it pays to read the instructions.

Mini-Egg Basket filled with Mini-Food

And my little mini-basket is just the perfect size for these cute little food erasers I picked up at our local toy store and soda fountain, Lofty Pursuits.



Have I mentioned Gauche Alchemy enough for you? Well, next week I’ll be sharing the details on a cool stamp and paint project I did as part of our swap with Viva Las VegaStamps. If you’re at ALL into cool stamps or are looking to get some Gauche Goodies at a discount, check out both blogs for their respective discount codes.

4 steps to a pretty paper basket

A Tisket, A Tasket, I Made a Paper Basket

64 Arts

And you can whip one up, too, if you’re so inclined.

I’ve been looking forward to this next art for some time now, though this isn’t the project I was planning to kick it off with.

34 Plaiting cane baskets, etc.

Making solid seats with dry canes.

Small basket made out of magazine covers and pages.

I’m not quite up to cane seats (though I do have an old chair on the garage that could use a new seat), but I do remember doing some basic basket-weaving in elementary school. I thought I’d seen supplies at my local Hobby Lobby but apparently I hallucinated that (or, you know, in a year the inventory has changed, but that couldn’t be it, right?) so it was on to Plan B.

Besides, cane is wood(ish) and paper used to be wood.

All justification aside, if your weaving skills are a little rusty, or you’ve got little ones around in need of a rainy-day projects, this might just be the ticket. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got plenty of materials around.

My magazine stash, or at least part of it

This totally makes me look like a hoarder, doesn't it?

My magazine-saving obsession notwithstanding, I was happy to find the instructions from the Family Fun site to follow. Of course, I did things a bit different: I overlapped my magazine strips to make a sturdier basket and used 2 of the leftover strips as crossed handles, secured by little brads.

4 steps to a pretty paper basket

Todd had the awesome idea to use some of the wallpaper sample books I’ve got saved up in The Abyss, but they’re, ah, not exactly as easy to get to. In fact, I think the stacks of magazines are blocking the sample books.

A basket like this (mine is about 3 inches square, not counting the handles) would be perfect for delivering a small stuffed toy to a sick friend, as a cute place-setting for a summer garden party, or even just to organize light-weight craft supplies.