Re: [pineneedlebasketgroup] Advice Please
I soak my needles in hot water (from the sink, not boiling) for 30 minutes
to an hour. I then lay them on a towel and let them sit a while. If they
are too soaked, I leave them out over night until they are just right. If
they get too dry, I resoak them.
I suspect your problem with the sides is the angle of your needle and maybe
pulling on the coil of needles too much as you round the corner.
On the big basket. I don't worry too much about the flexing of a large
basket because I finish my baskets with a mix of bee's wax and paraffin. I
melt the wax in a mini crock pot and brush it on both sides of the basket.
I them set it on a sheet of aluminum and place it in the oven at about
125-150°F for 10 to 20 minutes. After the wax dries, the basket will be
nice and stiff.
Congratulations on getting started on basket making with only a
book. Judy Mallow's book is very good. I use it also.
The only time I soak my needles before using them is if I'm going to
make a pine needle center and the needles need to be very flexible.
By the time I have a few coils done, I'm using dry needles. When I
do soak needles, I find that 10-15 minutes is enough.
Regarding the basket sides tapering in, there are two things I watch
when shaping a basket. One is where I put the new coil relative to
the one it's going to be stitched to. I hold it where I want it to
be when done. The other is the angle the needle goes through the
coil. The needle should be perpendicular to the plane of that part
of the basket. For instance, on the flat bottom, the needle goes
through vertically. On a straight side, the needle goes through the
side perpendicular to the side or parallel to the bottom, however
you want to think of it. On a side that's supposed to taper out, it
goes through perpendicular to that outward slope. It's sort of hard
to explain, but I hope you get the idea.
It is natural for your basket to be somewhat flexible before it's
shellaced. You can increase the rigidity by putting your stitches
closer together and keeping your stitches tight. I made a basket
with a 12 inch bottom and it was very flexible when I started the
sides. (Here's a photo of it:
I've never tried shellacing part of a basket before it was done. If
you decide to try that, remember to stop shellacing before you get to
the last coil so you can get your needle through it to continue with
the sides. I think I'd go ahead and finish the basket and shellac
the whole thing at the end. I don't see any downside to that
You might also consider starting with a wooden bottom, especially for
a large basket. It will give you the rigidity you're looking for,
and assuming you're going to put something in your basket, the bottom
is often not seen. I also like the look of wooden bottoms. (Here's a
photo of a basket with a 10 inch wooden bottom:
Hope those comments help. Let us know what you decide to do and how
it works out.