How to Hoop it Up (antler hoops that is)

handmade baskets | Jill Choate Basketry

Several of my baskets require an antler hoop such as:  African Tower, Porkypod, or the Double Dog Leg. Making a hoop from an antler starts off with the selection of the antler.  In this case we want something relatively small without a large curve.  Small white tail or small mule deer antler usually works well for this project.

Tools required:

  1. hand drill

  2. 1/4" drill bit 

  3. hot glue

  4. #8 round reed

  5. basketry shears or garden pruners

  6. sharpie pen

  7. Masking tape

First drilled hole begins on the inside curve of the antler close to the rosette end of the antler.  I use a sharpie pen to mark it so I don't lose sight of where I want to drill. 

Begin to drill at a 90 degree angle with your bit, once you've busted through the crust, turn the drill upside down so that you go through the LENGTH of the antler and NOT the width.  You'll want to make sure that it's not a sharp angle off the antler.  If it's too sharp it will bust the #8RR.

Second hole is on the rosette end of the antler, once again mark with a sharpie pen.  Your holes should be at least 1/2 to 1 inch in depth.  

Once drilled fit the two holes with a #8 round reed piece to however large you want your hoop.  Using hot glue, glue in place.  If it snaps, it's too long, too short, (fill in the blank) it's easy to re-drill the glued piece out and start again.  

Once you've got you hoop shape intact you have to surround the hoop with another piece of #8 by wrapping it a couple of times.  This is the same technique as making a round hoop from a piece of round reed except that the start has already been formed

I try to make a wrap around at least 3 times in the hoop and then follow the pattern I've created.  Tape in place when complete.  Then pull the hoop down and tape to the antler.

A video of drilling antler for the Indian Blanket Basket, not the same as a hoop but you can see the technique in action.





Jill Choate
Jill Choate


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