Hand woven Nantucket baskets are distinctive and originated over 150 years ago. The Nantucket basket's are constructed in a distinctive method. These hand woven baskets are crafted the same way the lightship crewmen crafted theirs. Each basket is hand woven over a wooden mold with a wooden base using rattan or cane as the weavers. These hand woven baskets are painstakingly create through the several steps. The wooden base for a Nantucket basket will be shaped and follow the same staining steps as the staves. Each wooden stave must be carefully shaped then steam bent over the mold the basket weaver plans to use with the base attached to the mold. Some molds are straight verticals while others will have a potbelly shape and yet other molds will have a tapering shape. Each base must have a slot in the side that is wide enough and deep enough to hold the wooden staves. After the steam bent step, the staves are allowed to dry completely and then sanded smooth. If allowed to air dry this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the humidity in the air. The dry staves are then stained with their first coat and left to dry. Once the stain is dry the staves are sanded smooth and a second coat of stain is applied. They are then allowed to dry again. Air drying time for each stain coat can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months depending on the amount of humidity in the air. The staves will be sanded smooth once again after they are dry. It is preferred that the base and staves are stained at the same time so they are using the same dye lot. Depending on the depth of color that is wanted will determine if the weaver needs to apply any additional coats of stain to the staves and base. Once the weaver has a base and set of staves with extra staves prepared and well dried, they are then able to attach the base to the wooden Nantucket mold. The wooden staves are then inserted into the slot on the wooden base around the mold. Next is the fun step, weaving the basket. The first couple of inches on a Nantucket are the hardest and most critical basket weaving inches. This is due to the tight spacing that is typical of Nantucket baskets. The basket weaver will then use cane or rattan to weave the basket. The last few steps can be challenging. Once the basket is woven to the end of the mold it is time to take the basket off the mold. The trick is to get the snug basket off the mold without breaking a stave or unraveling the woven cane. The next step is to pack tightly and ensure the weaving is at the same level all around the basket. Finally the basket weaver will rim the Nantucket basket. If the basket is good sized this can be a two person job.
Please find below some measurements for the available Nantucket baskets.
Small Potbelly - Walnut Staves 3" diameter by 3" height
Large Potbelly - Walnut Staves 8" diameter by 5 1/2" height
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