Handcrafted from the heart: the stories behind our handwoven baskets
22 May 2020
Many of our signature TREE collections have a unique story to tell: from our celebes range crafted from reclaimed wood once used as fence posts, to our petrified wood pieces that have undergone a natural process over millions of years to form into fossil. Today, we take you behind-the-scenes of our beautiful handwoven baskets, uncovering the materials and techniques used to create just some of our newly landed naturally stylish pieces.
Our beautifully handwoven baskets originate from the Pulungbulu region of the Philippines, an area known for its skilled weavers for furniture and decorative accessories. Many of these age-old basket weaving techniques are passed down from generations and has created livelihoods for communities. While these artisans are constantly exploring new weaves and creating original designs to keep abreast of world trends, they still continue to incorporate traditional techniques, passing them down to future generations to ensure that the art of basket weaving is healthily preserved.
Get the look: handwoven baskets
Each handwoven basket is crafted using natural fibres (such as seagrass and rattan), which are not only indigenous to the Philippines, but are also sustainable materials that aren’t detrimental to our planet. Read on below to take a closer look at some of the weaving techniques used for our woven wonders!
Rattan is part of the palm family, and is a popular natural material used in furniture and basket weaving due to its light, durable and flexible properties. While there are close to 600 species of rattan found in tropical regions in Africa, Asia and Australia, most commercially-used species grow in hilly and tropical areas like Southeast Asia and specifically the Philippines. Its sheaths are either smooth or are covered with small spines, which provide support as it grows over trees and plants.
Get the look: Mixed naturals ringed basket
In one of our handwoven basket styles, rattan fibres in four and five-millimetre widths are woven on a metal frame using a classic wicker technique. Meanwhile, the middle section features another weaving pattern known as binding, where the natural fibres are wrapped around a thicker piece to give the basket dimension and a ‘ringed’ effect. With almost 17 hours put into creating one single piece, these baskets are indeed a labour of love!
The beauty of rattan is in its versatility: both its skin and core can be used to create different types of products depending on the look and design that is desired. In this handwoven basket, the rattan core is shaped and molded so that its outer surface has an embossed effect. These pieces are then woven using a highly specialised weave that doesn’t require any ribs or frames for guidance or support, and is all achieved with a meticulous eye and a skilled, steady hand.
Get the look: Rattan herringbone weave basket
With its beautiful herringbone weave, this basket has a naturally stunning graphic effect that lends plenty of warmth and textural interest to any space!
While the seagrass name may suggest that it’s found underwater, it is actually part of the sedge plant family and is grown on land, typically in wet climates and low to medium altitudes like the Philippines. Thanks to its durability and naturally smooth texture, seagrass is a popular natural material that is used in basket weaving and other handicrafts such as area rugs and trays.
Get the look: Mixed naturals braided basket
Upon harvest, the seagrass must be laid out to dry in order to achieve a beautiful warm brown tone. The strands are then braided together to create a rope, which is soaked in water for several hours to soften the fibres and ensure that breakage doesn’t occur during the weaving process.
For our braided basket, the artisans first form a metal powder-coated frame woven with seagrass which helps add stability to the base. Using a thin abaca rope, the braids are then sewn together around a wooden mould, giving way to its stunning rounded shape. These handwoven baskets take about eight hours to complete – another painstaking craft indeed!
Defined by their expert craftsmanship, thoughtfully woven designs and robust structures, our handwoven baskets have truly unique stories to tell and are made to last a lifetime. Today, these pieces are found in many of our customers’ homes and are used for everything from decorative accessories to stylish storage. Indeed, each purchase helps these local artisans, providing them with a stable income to support their families and community, all the while giving them the confidence to continue this exceptional craft.