Cedar Plaited Basket

Cedar, as I’ve talked about, is an amazing material.

Here is one example of beautiful baskets my friend Angie has taught me to make.

In the spring time, in the Pacific Northwest, you can go out and find Western Red Cedars (Thuja plicata) that are relatively big, and have no branches along one side. Then, you cut a horizontal slit at about waist level, about a hands width wide. Cutting a slit any longer than this will likely kill the tree! So be cautious. And, to the best of your ability, try to cut in a way that is hidden from other wanderers, in order to keep our forests looking beautiful. Then, for about a year, you cure the bark in a bundle like this.

Over time the bundle will gain this rich, red colour. After a year, your bark is ready to soak. Soak it long enough for it to be extremely pliable. Then, with a Jerry Stripper (a leather cutting tool which allows you to cut strips), cut your pieces to your desired length and width. In each strand, you will have several pieces of bark layered on top of each other, which you can separate with a paring knife.

Then, you can weave! There are plenty of great resources on the web that give details on plaited baskets, so I won’t. However, I will tell you that the twining on this one is made from raffia. You can also use Stinging Nettle, Dogbane, or Milkweed for your cordage, too!

I find these baskets incredibly fun and relaxing to make. I encourage you to try it, too!

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