Household Crafts and Tips: The Foxfire Americana Library - Foxfire Students (2011)
MAKING A HAMPER OUT OF WHITE OAK SPLITS
Sitting on her front porch hammering away at the heavy white oak ribs, Beulah Perry looked as if she had been making baskets for a long time. Actually she had never made one before, but after years of watching her father, she knew just how to do it.
Even though I had known Beulah for over a year, she still amazed me with all her knowledge of the old times, and with her stories of how she and her family lived before there were stores in which to buy canned foods, cloth, and electric lamps.
Like many of the other people we interviewed, Beulah knows what it was like to have her closest neighbors five miles away, to have a cooked possum head as a reward for being good, and to get maybe a stick of peppermint when her father had a few extra pennies.
Her house is spotless. While she was showing us how to make the basket, she served us coffee and cake. Each person had a china cup and saucer—all different. When Jan and I helped her do the dishes afterwards, we were afraid she would think us bad housekeepers if we left anything undone and scrubbed the sink and cabinets with Comet. We were sure she did it every time!
I’ve learned tremendous respect for Beulah and all the others who shared similar hardships, if you can call them hardships at all. Their world certainly contrasts sharply with ours of TV, cars, and mothers who do all the work. We can’t go back now, but we can listen to what they have to say and learn from it. That’s one reason why we asked Beulah Perry to show us how to make a basket.
ILLUSTRATION 15 The hamper requires twenty-four heavy rips, each about an inch wide. Crease each rib, while green, in two places, thus dividing it into three section, each twenty-two inches long (left). Here Beulah creases one rib. All knots and rough places should be hammered out so they will interfere with the weaving. Now the bottom of the basket is woven, using the ribs. The first ribs may be tacked down to help hold them in place until enough have been added so that the basket will stand alone (right).
ILLUSTRATION 16 Continue adding ribs, weaving the center section of each in an over one/under one pattern until …
ILLUSTRATION 17 … there are twelve ribs going in each direction, their center sections woven to form the basket’s bottom.
ILLUSTRATION 18 Now, beginning at the bottom of the basket, and using thin, pliable splits, weave in and out of the ribs to make the sides. Keep the splits close together and fairly tight so that the sides will stand firm when the basket is done.
ILLUSTRATION 19 Continue weaving until the top is reached. This will take nearly all the splits you can make from two good oak saplings. When the end of one split is reached, simply lap a new one over the end of the old by about two inches and continue as before.
ILLUSTRATION 20 At the top, the ends of the ribs will probably be uneven. Before the rim can be made, these must be trimmed off straight. This can be done with a knife or, as shown here, with a pair of hedge clippers.
ILLUSTRATION 21 At the top, take two more splits and line the inside top edge with one and the outside top edge with the other. Holding them tightly in place, wrap a cord or a thin narrow split around them to make a good, tight rim. A handhole can be cut in either side, just under the rim, if you wish.