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Wicker Baskets: A Timeless Tool

Let’s go low-tech. Not permanently, just for a little while. We spend so much time entranced by the shiny aspects of modern technology, from iPads to smart phones, lightning fast cable services, and having the entire world practically at our fingertips that sometimes I think we get too overwhelmed by them. Now, maybe that’s just me. Having spent the last few weeks immersed in researching the world of tablet computers I find myself craving something a little less technical, a little less electric.

But to paraphrase a recent movie, sometimes we need a little old fashioned, which led me to write this article. So today, let’s talk about wicker baskets. They’re another one of those products that kind of gets shuffled to the back of our collective consciousness, something that’s ever-present in a sort of background capacity for most of us. But take a look in any craft store and plenty of department stores and you’ll see those baskets there, in numerous sizes and finishes, ready to be purchased and used at any home (just ask my mother; she’s got plenty). They’re also a popular choice for a lot of businesses, especially those in the baking or food vendor industry. My local supermarket places wicker baskets right by the register, filled with fresh bread loaves from nearby bakeries. Once I really saw just how popular these baskets actually were, I decided to educate myself a bit and learn what I could about these tools and share with you the results of my search.

1. You may have known this, but I didn’t: wicker is actually the style of weaving that goes into these baskets, not the name of the plant used to create them. However, only certain plants have the flexibility needed to create the specific woven wicker design. Knowing that, the phrase ‘synthetic wicker baskets’ makes that much more sense. The more you know, as they say… custom wicker basket flower basket willow b

2. In general, wicker baskets and furniture are made from various different plants, such as bamboo, rattan, and reeds. However, wicker items can also be made from woven plastic fibers (which is good for food service settings as it can be cleaned off easily and will last longer than natural materials).

3. One of the most popular materials throughout the world for making natural woven wicker baskets? Willow. This may have also helped to originate the word ‘wicker’ as well, which has possible origins in the Scandinavian ‘wika’ (to bend) and ‘vikker’ (willow).

4. Evidence of wickerwork furniture (which includes chairs and baskets – not unlike the ones used at home and in stores around the world today) tells us that this specific style of wicker weaving and furniture making has been found to have been used as far back as the ancient Egyptians. From there it spread around the Mediterranean and Western Europe, with further evidence of wicker baskets being found in the ruins of Pompeii. You know your wicker basket’s got a good heritage if its ancestors could stand up to a volcano. Basketry in general, however, is prevalent worldwide, with the skills taught and passed down through many different cultures throughout the ages.

5. Despite wavering popularity in the United States over the years, the first wicker baskets and furniture hit the shores of America with the Mayflower. The durability of the woven fibers made wicker baskets a popular choice for long sea voyages in the centuries prior as well. This means you’re keeping up with a grand tradition when you decide to use wicker tools at home or in your store.

 

 

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