I’d really wanted to try something complex. After struggling a little with the results of some of the wider tubed baskets (check out an example towards the end of this post) , I thought it’d be a good idea to go back to using narrower tubes for a while. I’d made some 5×5 #7 baskets before, but as always I want to push myself a little further, and it just so happened 7 of my very narrow road bike inner tubes (all just over 2 cm wide) fit nicely on my #10 stacking box.
In a slight change from my normal format, I’ll show you the final product, then talk a little about how it came together.
The Finished Basket
- Size: 17 cm L x 17 cm W x 16 cm H
- Materials: Stiffer tubes, all just over 2 cm wide. Material from about 11 tubes (but it didn’t use all of each tube, more on that later)
- Rivets: 43 silver-coloured brass rivets
- Hand Press Presses: 96
- Time: About 2 and a half hours
As this was a very complex basket, I was curious how long each section would take me. So I noted down some rough timings as I went along.
Sorting, Cutting, and Weaving the Base
I’d saved up my especially narrow tubes as they don’t work on my smallest basket size, but it still took time to sort out the ones that had the same stiffness and would work well together.
With this bigger basket I ran into the valve section with a lot of tubes. Quite often I had a choice of leaving a very small section of tube near a valve, or leaving a lot but having to dig more out of my stash to make up the lengths I needed. I chose the latter as thankfully I managed to find enough that would work.
I still have my heart set on a crazy sea urchin basket (discussed a little in this post), and now I’ve got 8+ more valves with a good bit of tube around them to add to the pile of potential materials!
Doing the final sorting and selection of the tubes cutting everything to length, and weaving the base of the basket took me about a half hour.
Time so far…30 mins
Prepping the Bands
Next up was preparing the bands I use to create the sides of the basket (aka weavers). Assembling them ahead of time is an essential part of the process. It means I can make the sizes consistent and pick out how everything comes together to make the most of that lovely writing on the tubes.
At this point I also attach my ‘team sikel’ label. Those are made up of large-ish scraps of tube left over from other things. I tend to save the firmer tube for cable tidies, but anything too stretchy ends up here as it’s just decoration.
This process can be a bit fiddly. There are two mistakes I often make, regardless of how many reminders I leave around my workspace or baskets I’ve made:
- Attaching the ‘team sikel’ label at the wrong point, so it doesn’t line with the rivets on ‘over’ sections of the weave.
- Riveting together ALL the bands. I need to keep the top one apart (but marked to the correct length) as that’s riveted together with the top.
Thankfully I didn’t make those mistakes here, but it still took about 20 minutes.
Time so far… 50 mins
Weaving the Sides
I finally remembered to take a picture!
While you’d hope at this point it would just magic together quickly, we’re not even halfway through.
As the inner tube is so grippy, there’s some wrestling to get the sides down where the need to be. I make it a little easier on myself by using bulldog clips to hold the stakes (vertical sections of the weave) I’m going ‘over’ in place. But on each side I have to check I haven’t left gaps below, and that it’s not twisting out of shape.
Each loose stake needs a good tug to line it back up with the one that I’ve left clipped, and then I swap the clips over and repeat until I’ve reached the top of the form.
At this point I have to do some clipping to remove excess layers that would otherwise warp the tabs at the top. This is after a lot of testing to find the best finishing method, which I talk about more in this blog post.
I save the final finishing until after the rivets have been attached. But phew! We’ve got something that resembles a basket.
You may also notice I’ve switched clips. At this very last stage I find a wonder clip style warps the top of the basket less as it’s flat on the back unlike a bulldog clip.
But they’re also much more expensive (and a lot of plastic) so I use the metal bulldog clips as much as possible.
Time so far…1:45
Finessing and Attaching the Rivets
This one was a bit of a marathon. My simplest baskets are 3×3, meaning I have 9-10 rivets to attach at the top. Being 7×7, this basket has 29, so about 3 times as many!
Thankfully I have a placement template to help me keep everything more or less consistent around. I mark while it’s still on the form and then wiggle it off.
Before I get to riveting though, there’s invariably some finessing to make sure the top of the basket isn’t warping and the stakes end straight in the back. I also tend to have a little gap at each corner due to the form I’m using, and I try to space out the top of the stakes to distribute the worst of it along the side.
For the actual riveting, my table top hand press to makes it much easier. As the inner tube is grippy, I have to be careful that the flaps on the back don’t bend out of shape. On many baskets I use some water-soluble double-sided sewing tape to keep everything in place where I can’t see it.
Believe it or not, that process took about a half an hour. And it’s still not done – but thankfully there’s not much left to do.
Time so far… 2:15
Tidying Everything Up
Last but not least is trimming off the ends of the tabs and making them look pretty. It’s something I have to do inside and out. On smaller baskets where it’s harder to get my hand in, I’ll physically flip the basket inside out…one of the perks of using this flexible material!
In my initial trials I tried I lot of finishing styles to end up with the one I have now. It creates a bit more waste than I’d like, but the alternative was something that looked rough for my liking. Until I think up a neater finishing method, I’ll just save up those little scraps to stuff another doorstop for myself.
Final Time… 2:30
But with the basket done, all there’s left to do now is take some photos to show off all the work that went into it!
I love how much writing I was able to show off on this basket. And the contrast of the metal with the black of the tubes.
There’s something especially pleasing about these baskets made with the narrower inner tubes. I think it reflects all the effort that goes into producing them.
It may seem odd that I’m devoting so much of my blog space to discussing these baskets when I don’t have them for sale on my website. I absolutely love them, and how they’re able to use up the tubes that I otherwise don’t have a use for. But to be honest, I’m struggling with pricing them.
So while I work through some self doubt about charging their worth, these will be priced cheaper than they should be as an in-person market exclusive.
Though you may see a few up in my Super Seconds Festival offerings – but more on that another day!