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Coiled Basket #3: Bigger and Changes in Technique

This is the fourth post in a series about my journey making baskets from punctured bicycle inner tubes. To see them all, click here.

Goals

If you remember from my last post, I had some ideas on how to change or improve my process on this next basket:

  • Make the sides a bit more even – my previous basket has a bit of a waist (for lack of a better word)
  • Change the method I used to pull the strips through – the pliers I use have teeth and I damaged the coiling strips a few times
  • Use a different size tube for the core of the coil – I’d nearly run out of the very narrow ones I was using before

In my head this one was also going to be a bit smaller, hopefully taking less time. If I ever wanted to sell these for my business, I felt I’d need to be able to make them faster (or accept the fact that they’d end up costing hundreds of pounds).

Construction

Given the second two points above, my construction method changed a little bit this time around.

As you see, I only used one inner tube as the core material for my coil instead of the two (narrower) tubes I’d used on the first two.

And instead of the pliers I used for those first two baskets, I switched to a wooden needle I’d carved myself for needlebinding.

The method was similar to that second coiled basket – around the core tube twice before picking up the coil below, and I focused even more on making the sides straighter than before.

I progressed- though it was even slower as the coils were thinner (it didn’t grow as quickly), and the basket ended up being bigger. I worked on this basket from August-November 2020.

For once I wasn’t terrible at documenting my progress. Here are some shots as I went along.

5 working hours in with my hand for scale. I was about 4 inner tubes in at this point, too.

My initial idea that this would be smaller than my previous basket was well out the window, but I was enjoying the process so I didn’t mind.

The needle seemed to be working well at this stage.


7 hours into basket making. Not a huge difference from my previous basket, but that’s because I spent a good chunk of that additional time cutting strips from the wider, stretchier inner tubes I couldn’t use on wallets or samosas.

While I liked using the needle, the movement of using it put a different kind of focused strain on my hand. The repetitive motion caused me to pull a muscle or tendon (or something) that impacted lots of things in my life.

I distinctly remember it hurting to turn on the tap in my kitchen. So at this point I took a break to let myself heal.


11.5 hours into the basket. I abandoned the needle after I developed that pain in my hand, and bought an expensive but well made bent needle nose set of pliers (a link the the manufacturer – not for sale there but you can find it lots of places).

These didn’t have any teeth – the inner tube doesn’t need it, with pressure it grips well enough in the pliers jaws – so hopefully I wouldn’t damage the strips as I was doing before.

It also meant I was using my whole hand in the motion, and not a few little muscles in my fingers, so hopefully I wouldn’t injure myself

To be honest my hand still twinged a bit now and then, which was a little scary but I was still OBSESSED with these baskets so I kept going.


16.5 working hours into the basket (though we’re now into October 2020).

A lot of other things took precedence in the months between this and the previous photo, but thankfully inner tubes don’t go off, so it wasn’t hard for me to pick this up again.


Not sure how far this one was along, but I was close to finishing. Tilly for scale (though she’s a petite cat so I’m not sure it’s much help).

One thing I enjoyed about this style of basket making was I could do it on the comfy seats in the evenings.

As I wasn’t working to a form there was a judgement call about when this basket was actually done. It’s hard to describe but one of those ‘I know it when I see it’ things.

That’s all the in-process photos I have. Curious to see how it turned out?

The Final Basket

Some Stats:

  • Size: 24 cm tall, 23 cm diameter
  • Weight: 2.4 KG
  • Time: About 23 working hours
  • Materials: 20 or so inner tubes (I was bad at keeping track)

Comparison

How did this fit in with the baskets I’d made so far?

Obviously it’s bigger and took more time – both because of the size and the fact there were more layers of coils.

I felt a lot neater this time around, though I can see there it’s not perfectly straight. Let’s be honest, I’m a human not a robot, so it’ll never be perfectly straight.

It’s hard to get a sense of the sizing from those photos – this basket felt massive compared to the previous one. For fun (and maybe because I was going slightly mad) I found an better way to demonstrate.

The first photo is of my previous basket – I’m getting Marge Simpson vibes. But happily (?) this one’s big enough to completely cover my head.

Do ignore the messy shelving.

Moving Forwards

I didn’t feel completely done with round basket making, but having made three I wanted to try a different shape. So I set my sights on:

  • an oblong basket
  • maybe even one with a handle

Sounds simple enough, right? Next post is going to cover three (or nearly three) baskets as I worked out all the kinks with what I thought was going to be an easy progression with this technique.

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