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Stacking Box Baskets

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

Measurements & Goal

My last post ended with my purchase of these lovely kids stacking boxes.

The boxes are all more or less cubes, they’re a tiny bit shorter than they are wide. The sizes are (measurements are along one side):

  • #1 – 5 cm
  • #2 – 6 cm
  • #3 – 7.5 cm
  • #4 – 8.7 cm
  • #5 – 9.5 cm
  • #6 – 11 cm
  • #7 – 12 cm
  • #8 – 13.25 cm
  • #9 – 14.5 cm
  • #10 – 16 cm

#3 is about the same size as the milk carton from my last post, and probably the smallest I’d use to make baskets. #10 is about the same size as the cardboard box I was using before, but with the added benefit of height. So while they won’t let me make anything bigger, these boxes greatly increase the range of things I’m able to make.

And because I get such a variety of widths in, it should hopefully mean I’m able to use up more of the tubes donated to me.

But at this stage my only goal was to experiment. As this was a very playful process, I don’t have much in the way of in making-of photos. Sometimes having to document can be a real barrier for me to create if I’m in a certain mood, so I gave myself permission to just have fun with it.

#10 5×4 Basket

I should probably come up with fancy names, or something besides my personal shorthand to label these baskets, huh? But I can’t think of anything else that works as succinctly to capture the variety possible with all these different forms.

  • #10 stands for the size stacking box I used.
  • 5×4 are the number of tubes in each direction – 5 on each side vertically, and 4 high.

Makes sense, yes?

Here it is:

A few stats:

  • Size: 18 cm on each side, 12.5 cm high.
  • Tubes: There are at least 3 different tubes in this basket (you can tell with the blue stripe and varying widths, 2.5-3.25 cm)
  • Rivets: 28 silver-coloured brass rivets
  • Number of times I had to use my hand press: 58

I didn’t take full advantage of the height here as I was using up some scraps of inner tubes from other projects, but I still love it.

There were so many wonderful bits of character on the tubes I used I just had to show off, scroll down to see some more.

Detail

There are some brilliant features on this basket I had to highlight. My favourite bit is the hole where a valve is missing.

You can see a stripes and some writing on that side too.

Some great patches on this basket. Check out my first photo of this one to see another on the lowest horizontal piece under the rivets.

As you can see there’s a bit of warping on some of those skinny tubes on each end – most noticeable on the picture with the valve hole.

It could just be the width compared to the tubes that are going across them, or maybe they were slightly more flexible. It was also still early on in my process and maybe the bands aren’t as even as they perhaps should be – to me that top row is a bit wide compared to the rest of it. That may be more noticeable in person, though.

Traditional Action Shot

There’s something about a basket of this size, I just have to wear it on my head.

Call it a compulsion!

Lesson

I was really happy with how this turned out. I featured everything I wanted to here. Beyond maybe taking a little more care that the horizontal bands were all the same size, next time I wanted to take advantage of the full high of the forms. And maybe try some other widths of inner tubes to see how the baskets turned out.

#8 3×3 Basket

While my process is generally to cut the wide ones flat for use in products like my wallets and coin samosas, I’d kept a few as tubes for another project. It wasn’t successful, so I tried them here instead. (If you’re curious – cutting a tube into a strip using a spiral to get a much longer length to crochet. It was too grippy to act as yarn.)

Stats:

  • Size: 15 cm x 14 cm
  • Tubes: Three different tubes, ranging from 3.5-5cm width.
  • Rivets: 31 silver-coloured rivets
  • Hand press presses: 100

Here’s a check of whether or not you’ve been paying attention – did you notice this basket has a huge jump in the amount of times I had to use my hand press?

My previous attempts have all been just over twice the number of rivets. But this basket was made from thinner inner tubes than the previous ones I’d made. To get the rivets as secure as possible, I needed to pad out some of the places they joined with washers.

So instead of just one press for each hole and then one to set the rivet, add two more to create each washer. And these joins have washers front and back.

With a little more forethought I could’ve constructed this differently to avoid some of those washers, but I was happy with the way they looked, and glad to know I could use those wonderful scrap busters in my basket making, too.

(You can read a little more about how I make washers and other ways I use up scraps in this post.)

Details & Lessons

Here are some more angles of this lovely basket.

I also experimented with the number of rivets I used on this basket: with the wider ones I used two at the top of each vertical tube. And went all out with four on each band.

While I didn’t mind the way the top looked, four is way too many in such a concentrated area.

Similar to some of the very experimental baskets from a few posts ago, it only draws attention to slight variations in spacing and placement. Unless they’re incredibly precise, it can just look sloppy.

I have much better uses for 5 cm wide tubes anyway (especially once I get my sewing machine sorted), so it’s no great shame to rule them out for basket making.

Well, unless I was doing something much larger than my current forms.

Action Shot

Hooray for height – this taller basket lives (for now) with my Aloe plant, though it’s been ear marked for one of my brothers in law once I get my act together and make the rest he’s asked for!

#7 5×5 Basket

After my foray into wider tubes, I wondered how the tubes I’d used on my small baskets (milk carton/#3 if you’re keen to use my system) would fare in a larger size.

The answer is that they’re gorgeous.

Stats

  • Size: 13 x 12.5 cm
  • Tubes: At least 5, about 2-2.5cm wide
  • Rivets: 30
  • Hand press presses: 66

These were thicker tubes so the only place I used washers was to help secure where my label attaches – they’re on the back of the tube so hidden in the weave.

Detail

I always try to make the most of the marks from tubes’ previous lives when making baskets, but it gets so much tougher the more complex the weave.

If you think about each visible section of the weave as a square, there are 100 squares to keep track of on this basket (25 per side). On my previous one there were just 36.

But I still managed to feature a wonderful patch, a white stripe, and some bits of writing.

A Comparison

Videos are the easiest way for me to share how the same kinds of inner tubes behave differently in different sized baskets. Here’s the larger basket. Apologies about the shakiness of the video – I wasn’t using my tripod for these.

The stiffer inner tubes provide a lot of structure to the basket, helping it keep its shape. In comparison, here’s a small sized basket (#3) made with the same kind of tubes.

These tubes were probably a bit narrow for this form – it’s a little gappier than I’d like. But the real issue is that stiffness. It’s adding so much structure it’s warping the shape of the basket, making some areas too rounded. The resulting basket looks a little sloppy.

You can see above where these stiff tubes want to be tubes. The vertical sections near the corners push the horizontal band in, making that middle much rounder than the top and bottom.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love this basket, but I know now to save those stiffer tubes for larger forms.

Moving Forwards

Each basket I make gives me more experience with how best to use this material. As I play around ideas pop into my head on new things to try.

Next week I have a little fun with valves!

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