What is a fish basket?
It is not a basket designed to hold fish. If you really want to put fish in them, I’m ok with that.
A fish basket is a basket technique that I have developed on my own after many years of experimental basket making. The original shape of these baskets reminded me of a fish, thus the name fish basket was born.
Tall fish. Flat fish. Big fish. Small fish. Fish with a handle. Asymmetrical fish. Half fish. Lounging fish. They are all made with the same technique that allows me to create basket frames with the least amount of material required.
Gathering vines for baskets takes a lot of energy and I am not getting any younger or stronger. (see post about this) Gathering involves pulling large vines out of host trees that are reluctant to give up their symbiotic relationship. Pulling a vine can sometimes damage parts of the host tree. (Not to mention damage to a shoulder rotator cuff). Sometimes the vine breaks and becomes inaccessible high up in the tree. When this happens it often gives way when you least expect it causing you to fall ungracefully to the ground with the best of the vine dangling from the tree, out of reach, far above you.
Grapevine is prolific and considered invasive, and is usually not too hard to find. Large bittersweet vine is harder to find, making it more treasured than common grapevine.
I decided that I need to reduce the amount of vines I was consuming when creating basket frames, regardless of whether I’m using invasive grapevine or the more elusive bittersweet vine.
Typically basket frames use two or three coils of vine or commercial reed to form one circle. A medium basket may need as much as 15 feet of material to make one circle. A basket is typically formed by intersecting two circles. This means as much as 30 feet of vine is needed for one medium sized basket. That’s a lot of vine!
Fish baskets allow me to use one single length of vine, bent in half, to intersect with one other single length of vine also bent in half. A gods eye secures the 2 bent ends together and a modified god’s eye or lashing gathers together and secures the 4 ends. Spokes are added to give the basket its shape and provide spokes to weave upon in the usual basket making manner.
The fish basket technique has allowed me to significantly reduce the amount of vine I use to make a basket frame. I have further reduced my vine consumption by making better use of found materials such as fallen branches, cleared saplings and beaver sticks that float to my shoreline.
Recently, I have further minimized the amount of framing material I require by creating lounging fish, which typically are long and curved. Lounging fish have one bent vine (or branch), and one other straight, but curved piece of vine or branch, to form the centre bottom spoke.