Learn how to weave a miniature log basket for your dolls house or miniature scene in this tutorial by Jane Harrop who uses one of the traditional basket making materials, centre cane...
What is centre cane?
Centre cane, also known as reed cane or rattan core, is processed from the central part of the ‘rattan reed’ tree into a variety of shapes. Round centre cane, which is used for this project, can be bought in a variety of sizes starting at 1mm (No. 000) diameter up to 12mm (No.35) diameter and beyond. The very fine centre cane is perfect for weaving baskets in miniature.
The project uses 1mm (No. 000) centre cane for the weaving and 1.25mm (No. 00) centre cane for the stakes. As an alternative 1.50mm (No. 0) centre cane could be used for the stakes. Lengths of centre cane vary between two to four metres long, and often just one length of weaving cane is all that's needed to make a basket in miniature.
The outer skin of the ‘rattan reed’ tree is also used for weaving and once removed is stripped into thin strips and is particularly popular for semi-outdoor woven furniture as it's water-resistant. Unlike the outer skin, the central part of the tree is porous, which means that centre cane can be stained, dyed, painted and even varnished. One way of colouring a miniature basket is dropping it in cold tea or coffee for several minutes. It never fails to produce a natural authentic finish.
Wicker furniture and baskets were particularly popular during the Victorian era (1837-1901) even though basket making using natural materials dates back to ancient times.
How to work with centre cane
Centre cane has to be kept damp whilst weaving, so you need to work either by the sink or with a small bowl of warm water next to you to keep soaking the cane for a couple of minutes to ensure its kept pliable. If the cane becomes too dry as you're weaving it's liable to split and break.
Once you’ve finished weaving make sure any excess cane is left to thoroughly dry before storing. Damp cane stored in a plastic bag or box will go mouldy.
Top tip! Place a towel on your lap to stop you getting wet and to avoid the cane absorbing any dye from your clothes.
Miniature log basket tutorial
You will need
From 1.25 diameter (No. 00) or 1.5mm (No. 0) centre cane:
- Seven 8in (200mm) lengths for stakes
- Two 1-3/4in (45mm) lengths for handles
- Coil of 1mm diameter (No. 000) centre cane for weaving
1. Soak the cane stakes in warm water for several minutes. Place three of the stakes, centrally on top of the remaining four stakes, more or less straightening out the cane as you do so.
2. Take the weaving cane and fold over a 6in (150mm) length to form a loop. Place around one group of the stakes. Slide the loop over to the centre of the stake cross.
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3. Take the weaving cane that's under the first group of stakes, over the top of the second group of stakes. The weaving cane that's over the first group of stakes should be brought under the second group of stakes. Continue neatly and evenly around the groups of stakes in three full circles. Keep the stakes flat as you secure them together.
4. At one end of the weaving cane, there will be a small excess left. Poke this through a gap in the woven cane and trim. Begin to open out the stakes and trim one off to leave an uneven number, which in this case is thirteen. Don’t worry at this stage if they don’t seem to separate evenly.
5. Mark the top of the first stake that you are going to start weaving around using a colourfast ink pen. Begin to weave between the stakes, evening out the gaps between them as you do so.
6. Ensure the stakes remain equally spaced during the weaving and the weaving cane is kept tight and even. Don’t forget to keep soaking the basket to keep the cane pliable. When the base measures 1-1/2in (38mm) in diameter, continue weaving round to the marked stake.
7. Bend the stakes upwards and holding them in place with one hand continue weaving around the stakes using your other hand.
8. When the basket measures 1in (25mm) high, continue weaving round to the marked stake. Trim the excess weaving cane to 1/2in (13mm) long and tuck inside the basket. If you come to the end of the weaving cane whilst weaving, join a new length from the inside of the basket, by forming a cross with the old cane and the new cane.
9. Make a border for the top of the basket by taking one of the stakes and bending it to the right. Take it in front of the next (first) stake, behind the second stake and in front of the third stake. Trim the excess stake to measure 1/2in (13mm) long and tuck the end inside the basket.
10. Continue this pattern until all the stakes have been woven. Make sure the border sits neatly on top of the basket and isn’t too slack.
11. Trim down the ends of the stakes inside the basket to measure about 1/4in (6mm) long and cut the end of each to an angle using small sharp scissors. If the base of the basket is not flat, soak and gently push it into the correct position.
12. Soak the handles and work out their position on top of the basket. Use a fine knitting needle or similar to gently ease a big enough gap in through the border and the weaving to secure the end of the handle. Repeat the procedure a little further round the basket for the opposite end of the cane handle and also to locate the remaining handle. Add colour to the basket by soaking in cold tea or coffee for several minutes and leaving to dry.
Enjoyed making a miniature log basket? Learn how to make a miniature shopping basket for your dolls house or miniature scene using plaiting.