WE’RE ALL BAS­KET CASES THIS YEAR

Kya de­longchamps looks at the rise of earthy, tac­tile, hand­wo­ven items in the home — a strong and con­tin­u­ing trend with its feet firmly in the crafter’s camp

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Diy -

The gen­tle Ar­ti­san trend in in­te­ri­ors has brought new in­ter­est and ap­proaches in raw, tra­di­tional sur­fac­ing from hewn woods to stone, con­crete, leather and most markedly this year — weaves in straps, reeds and grasses.

The mar­ket­place is rich with ev­ery­thing from two han­dled Bolga bas­kets fash­ioned from Sene­galese Ndiorokh prairie grasses (de­signed to sit up­right or lie on their side) to a deeper ap­pre­ci­a­tion of man-made ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing elec­tri­cal wiring re-imag­ined back to an­cient forms.

Light­ing, shell chairs, screens, ves­sels and floor­ing — the tex­tu­ral qual­i­ties of weaves soft­ens the sta­tus of mod­ern, flat and pol­ished sur­faces. Var­i­ous in­dige­nous weaves, braids, plaits and knots of coun­tries from Ghana to Chile, add feel, colour and a cul­tural fas­ci­na­tion over the house and have been ap­pro­pri­ated by West­ern de­sign­ers — the nat­u­rally vis­ual glob­al­ists — who are redis­cov­er­ing this trend.

Sally Gar­dens

Ire­land’s rich bas­ket-mak­ing his­tory has sur­vived due to the tal­ents and recog­ni­tion of a hand­ful of ded­i­cated crafters prop­a­gat­ing their work­ing cro, na­tive wil­low, soak­ing (a knowl­edge all of its own) and cop­pic­ing their stock sea­son to sea­son, across the coun­try.

Along­side the tra­di­tional bas­kets for ev­ery­thing from fruit to turf, scoibs and nest-like ciseógs (used to strain po­ta­toes), are new free form sculp­tures in fab­u­lous colours taken straight from the nat­u­ral colour of the wil­low.

If you are in­ter­ested in some­thing sculp­tural above all, the work of Joe Ho­gan in­cludes mus­cu­lar wil­low and tor­tured drift­wood pouches. His lu­mi­nous Catkin bowls (soft puffs of hazel on a wil­low frame) stand along­side the iconic rat­tan fur­ni­ture work of Ya­makawa in Ja­pan.

■ joe­hogan­bas­kets.com. €120, (other op­tions for groups and longer tu­to­ri­als are avail­able). Ciaran’s work is also avail­able to buy, with sciobs fit for the ta­ble or the wall from €75, turf bas­kets from €140, wil­low bowls from €220 and bread bas­kets from €60.

■ cia­ran­hogan­bas­kets.com.

Sin­gling out any one maker is a twisted busi­ness, but I do like Kath­leen Mc­cormick’s hinged, por­ta­ble or one-piece gar­den screens grown, sea­soned and made by her hand. They can be moved in­doors for win­ter. Take a look at her rus­tic, beau­ti­ful bark boxes and com­mis­sion a trunk or a hor­ti­cul­tural bas­ket to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Kath­leen is a tex­tile worker too, and the mar­riage of bas­ket work to ver­nac­u­lar wo­ven blan­kets, rugs and hang­ings is a nat­u­ral flow.

■ kath­leen­m­c­cormick­bas­kets.com (Kil­dare).

In lamps and shades, take a look at the light rak­ing work of Tip­per­ary ar­ti­san, Hanna Van Aeslst.

■ han­na­vanaelst.com.

Coun­try­wide, the DCCOI or The Ir­ish Bas­ket Mak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion is a good place to start any search. ■ In real or synthetic re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, Fair Trade is one of the re­spected over­seas or­gan­i­sa­tions re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­er­ing thou­sands of wicker bas­kets and orbs from places as far flung as Chile, .

IKEA, long founded in 70s styling — has a strong show of wicker, bam­boo strap­ping and rat­tan — real and faux at the mo­ment.

■ Top of my list are IKEA’S floppy, fine weave sea­grass Fladis bas­ket in a black/nat­u­ral com­bi­na­tion (€10/ €20), and the witty rat­tan and ash, Gron­adal rocker (€175).

ONew ways with weave

ur new in­door/out­door fas­ci­na­tion in fur­ni­ture has im­proved the stand­ing of resin copies — take a look at the lux­u­ri­ous Ethimo Ese­dra din­ing chairs with deep up­hol­stery – pure WAG won­ders, from €1,530 per arm- chair, housol­ogy.com.

The Zulu craft co-op­er­a­tives in the ur­ban ar­eas of South Africa are cred­ited with the early re­cy­cling of coloured tele­phone wire, and the tech­nique blend­ing older forms and meth­ods is now vi­brant folk art with a 10-year stand­ing.

■ Look for im­benge (saucers), ukhamba (pods) and isi­qua­betho (plat­ters) from €50 in in­dige­nous raw ilala palm and Ncebe (ba­nana plant) and wire. Sup­pli­ers in­clude in­jab­ulo.com.

Re­turn­ing to the real stuff, thug­gish, in­va­sive grasses and jointed leaf stems are tamed into gor­geous, af­ford­able prod­ucts. Un­der-foot and in­ex­pen­sive, sea­grass is soft enough to spare your soles. Man­u­fac­tured from plants grown in coastal mead­ows along the banks of Viet­namese rivers, as rugs and car­pet­ing, try Casey’s for qual­ity floor­ing from €35 a me­tre. Wa­ter Hy­acinth is a fast-grow­ing aquatic, nui­sance plant na­tive to South Amer­ica which again de­liv­ers a soft sur­fac­ing for stor­age and rat­tan has never lost its place in hu­mid ar­eas of the home.

■ We love Helen James’ Kubu bas­kets in a her­ring­bone weave from just €35, ideal for the bath­room or laun­dry and fully lined, Dunnes Stores.

Char­ac­ter and care

With the ex­cep­tion of Ir­ish wil­low bas­ketry and tele­phone wire, most plant, reed, twig and wood weaves do not re­spond well to heavy use and im­mer­sion. Start with a good choice of prod­uct with a tight, even weave, well se­cured cor­ners and no ob­vi­ous shrub­bery stick­ing out that may snag and dam­age the whole.

Nat­u­ral grasses and many tim­bers are dull (not glossy), but colour can vary even across one item. They are no­to­ri­ous dirt mag­nets, but don’t spray sol­vent based clean­ers.

Rat­tan is a liana used since the late 19th cen­tury in the sig­na­ture ‘Peacock chair’ and has a good even size across its lengths. It’s not in­tended for out­doors 24/7 — so go phoney.

Wired cores fin­ished with twisted pa­per make Lloyd loom ur­pris­ingly tough and when painted can sur­vive the driz­zling on­slaught of typ­i­cal Ir­ish sum­mers. It’s also the dar­ling of the auc­tion room and de­sign stu­dio.

Wil­low can be com­pletely dunked and many mak­ers rec­om­mend tight­en­ing the struc­ture of their bas­kets by oc­ca­sional long soak­ings fol­lowed by a full and con­sid­ered dry­ing out.

Reg­u­lar clean­ing with the soft brush at­tach­ment of a vac­uum cleaner is the best way to treat del­i­cate weaves, lamp-shades and other wo­ven items.

Can­dle hold­ers from Har­vey Nor­man start at €55-65.

A plas­tic-wrap ther­mos makes a fun ad­di­tion to gar­den par­ties and pic­nics. This rather posh va­ri­ety fa­mil­iar be­tween the wars is €69, Sis­ters Guild irish­bas­ket­mak­ers.com.

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