Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Celtic Baskets

Typical "stake-and-strand" gathering basket. DesBrisay
Museum, 413 P; 69.2.17
          Last but not least, our final basket-related blog post is all about Celtic baskets. European and British settlement in Nova Scotia came about in the late 1600s. If you're wondering why the term "Celtic," the movement of Celts across Europe meant that these practices became ingrained in many different places like Hungary, France, England, Ireland, Scotland, and so on. As people with these skills moved to Nova Scotia, the practice was brought with them. Celtic is a generalized term that can be used to describe the cultural aspect of these baskets. People brought three styles of baskets:  

  1. Willow “stake-and-strand” round-bottomed baskets and double-funneled eel pots/traps woven of witherod “withes” or “wits."  Basket makers also use alder, dogwood and willow. Bottom woven as a disc into which longer, heavier withes inserted, bent up for the “side-stake” warps woven to desired height.  Free ends interwoven for rim.
  2. Fingerwoven braided straw, rush and wood chip hats as well as wood chip baskets in a variety of patterns.
  3. Coiled straw baskets.  
Describing the Baskets
Gathering basket made using the twine-
woven technique. Fort Point Museum,
As with any basket, there's a lot more to them than meets the eye. 

Bottom: bottom sticks twine-woven/wicker-woven.

Side-stakes: inserted into bottom weave, bent up, wicker-woven (single round weft in an over 1/under 1 pattern); twine-woven (twisting two round wefts in a variety of patterns over 1/under 1; over 2/under 1; over 3/ under 1, etc.)

Rim: woven tips of side-stakes in a variety of patterns.  Heavy work baskets may have additional woven bottom rim to lengthen the life of the basket.  They can be removed and replaced to extend their use. 
German "brotkorb" bread basket. DesBrisay Museum, 40; X.40

Handles: overhand; side-handles.  Usually covered
with roped withes or wrapped rope twine.    

Celtic coiled straw “bread-raising “brotkorb” baskets: with core-bundle of straw wrapped and sewn to the previous row with long, narrow lengths of split wood or de-thorned blackberry cane, creating a continual spiral from centre-bottom to rim. 

Handwoven Hats, A history of straw, wood and rush hats in Nova Scotia.  Joleen Gordon.  Halifax, Nova Scotia Museum, 1981.

Withe Baskets, Traps and Brooms, Traditional crafts in Nova Scotia. Halifax, Nova Scotia Museum, 1984.

Older Ways, Traditional Nova Scotian craftsmen.  Peter Barss with Joleen Gordon.  Toronto, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1980. (Bernard Mossman and Victor Bush)