Plain basket handles are BORING, there's just no getting around it. The solution to the boring basket syndrome is to making the handle a focal point in your next basket by embellishing the handle BEFORE weaving the basket. Does it take extra time? Yes. Is it worth it? MOST definitely. Thanks go to Anne Bowers who taught me the tri-braided method of handle weave.
Here's 2 EASY VIDEOS to JAZZ up your next handle with a TRI-BRAID weave.
1) HOW TO BRAID WEAVE on a handle
Materials required: hoop, 2" clamp, a rubber band, a piece of reed that is shorter than the width of the hoop, cane, awl, basketry shears, warm water, bucket, spray bottle
Cut 3 shorter pieces of cane about 16" long find the center piece. Put to the side.
Cane has a shiny side to it (outside of the rattan plant) and a rougher side. The rough side of cane will take dye better than the shiny side and it's easy to tell the difference. Make a decision on what side you want to show in the braid, the one with more vibrant color or the mottled side (shiny). Both are fine it's your choice. These are the BRAIDERS.
Start out with a 4 piece of longer reed. This is the WRAPPER. Put all 4 pieces in some water water in a bucket to soak for about 1 to 2 minutes. NOTE: dyed cane can bleed so don't keep it in a long time.
Set up your handle by using a rubber band to hold the false rim (blue piece of reed) in place. You'll notice this false rim is slightly shorter in width than the hoop. In this case the hoop measure 6/8" width and the false rim is 5/8" FR.
HOW TO set up the BRAID:
Beginning with the long WRAPPER, place the tail end on top of the hoop and wrap on TOP of it for about 5 rounds covering the tail as you go.
Find the center of one of the BRAIDERS. Place this center underneath the false rim so that both ends trail off to the sides.
Wrap one time on top of the braider
Place the second BRAIDER underneath the false rim in the same fashion
Wrap one time on top of the braider.
Place the third BRAIDER underneath the false rim in the same fashion
Your now set up to braid the handle.
HOW TO weave the BRAID:
Beginning with bottom BRAIDER take the RIGHT hand side, cross it over to the LEFT hand side of the false rim at the top, go underneath the false rim and tighten. This is the FIRST part of your X
Continue with the bottom BRAIDER on the LEFT hand side, cross it over to the RIGHT hand side of the false rim at the top, go underneath the false rim and tighten. This is the SECOND part of you X.
Take the wrapper (hold in place with a clamp til needed) and wrap one time around the rim.
Continue across half the length of the handle.
HOW TO END the BRAID weave:
Remember the beginning wrap of about 5 times around the hoop? That's how you finish it. To hold it tight when the wraps are completed use an awl to loosen the wrap slightly. Take the end of the wrapper and insert it underneath those wraps. Pull tight then trim. This untidy part gets covered with the lashing of the basket.
TROUBLE SHOOTING the BRAID WEAVE:
Hey, things are looking good. You've got about half of the weave done along the handle and your cane breaks or it runs out. What now? Insert a new piece underneath the false rim when you ran out and continue the weave. Trim the excess flush with the braid.