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A Tisket, A Tasket - What You Need To Know About Baskets

Baskets are quickly becoming the new must-have decorating items. They've really got it all ! Even modern looking ones have a got a handcrafted, folk art vibe. Most use some sort of (usually sustainable) natural materials, and so have an earthy, timeless look. And, the big bonus is, they almost always combine form and function. Baskets are great for storage and they can be great ways to hide away needed things you'd like to keep close at hand.

Here's a few great tips about decorating with baskets, from Sheva, founder of the Themba Home Collection, anthropologist, and certified basket expert (Is there really such a thing? I don't know, but maybe there should be!)

1) Think out of the box (or maybe out of the basket?)

Baskets come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. "A lot of people think of baskets as only for traditional or farmhouse looks, but that's just not true!" says Sheva. "A basket in a beautiful, non-traditional shape can be a great way to draw the eye in any room. Baskets can also be naturally minimalist, because they tend to be simple rather than ornate, so can blend with all types of decor schemes. I like to think of them as enhancers, rather than showpieces."

2) Baskets are the perfect storage solution

"For millennia, baskets were the primary storage solution for families, and in indigenous communities, they often still are! Traditional communities use them for everything from storing food to carrying goods to market. In some communities, young girls are taught to balance large baskets on their heads from a very young age - it's the only way that groups with limited transportation options can bring goods from one place to another."

Baskets are made to be filled, and so are perfect storage solutions. Use small baskets in the powder room to hold toiletries, rolled hand towels, or makeup, for an instant spa vibe.

Medium sized baskets can hold toys, cords, or magazines in the living room. Large and extra large baskets are a great way to keep linens organized and close at hand. Use them for extra pillows in the bedroom, or throw blankets near the sofa.

3) Check the Source - There's a Story Behind It

Did you know that baskets from different sources will have different styles? "Sourcing is very important!" says Sheva. "Not only does it help you know the provenance of your basket, and allow you to make sure it is made with fair trade ideals in mind, baskets crafted in different parts of the world will often have completely different looks."

Some baskets are mass produced and factory made, but many are still woven in traditional ways. According to Sheva, "Many people look at baskets without realizing that there is a history and culture behind each one. In many traditional cultures, children are taught to weave baskets from a very young age. They learn to gather the native natural fibers or materials, and meticulously weave them together. If you look at all of the baskets from any particular culture or tribe, you'll often see a progression from the 'starter' baskets woven by children or youths, which gradually grows from utilitarian into beautiful works of art!"

Of course, this can affect the price. Expect to pay more for more intricately crafted baskets. And, you should consider the idea that it's worth paying a little more to buy from a source that pays a living wage to its craftsmen. Crafting and selling baskets can be a way for underprivileged communities (and women in them) to support themselves, and responsible businesses will try to source their baskets in a way that gives dignity and a fair wage to the places that produce them. So, think twice before buying that cheap basket at a big-box store. "Remember, buying any indigenous craft at an ultra-cheap price comes at a high price to someone else!" says Sheva.

5) Material Makes a Difference

Baskets can be made from all sorts of materials, from man made to natural. The material you choose will have a big effect on what you can use the basket for. A good way to envision the difference the that materials can make is to picture trying to sit on top of a seagrass chair, or carry a rattan basket loaded with groceries!

Seagrass or rivergrass baskets are naturally supple instead of stiff. They're great for toting items, storing everything from blankets to food, and carrying groceries. They are often beautiful as plant baskets. Their natural flexibility makes them great space savers and extra durable, but just remember they won't hold their shape when empty in the same way that other more rigid baskets do.

Rattan, wicker, or bamboo baskets are exactly the opposite - they are completely rigid so make great decorating pieces. Rattan and bamboo are very strong so can be filled with even heavy items, and lends itself to beautiful woven designs and unusual colors. It can also be brittle, though, and is harder to carry than a more supple basket type.

Many modern baskets are made from woven metal wire, which is super strong and lends itself to being hung on the wall or holding heavy weights. Reclaimed materials, such as recycled denim, kantha material, or even rubber are also having a moment right now and can be found in lots of basket designs.

6) Think in multiples for ultimate versatility!

Many basket styles lend themselves to nesting, so are sold in sets. Not only is this a great value, it's a great storage solution for smaller spaces. Baskets can be nested inside each other when not in use, and then taken apart as needed. Also, these matching baskets will give a cohesive look when spread across the room.

Kudos to Sheva for sharing her vast basket knowledge with us! I'll never look at a basket as just "ordinary" again!

Thanks for reading! If you're ready to bring home a basket (or two), here's a coupon for 15% off of your next basket purchase - use coupon code SHEVABASKETS at checkout!

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1 Comment

Indego Africa
Indego Africa
Aug 15, 2023

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