Making a Basket from Mulberry Prunings

I had pruned our Mulberry tree. Most of the pruned pieces were pencil diameter or thinner. A couple of days after pruning, the leaves were beginning to wither, and the stems of the non woody ones had become soft and quite flexible. I decided to try making a basket.

I made a basket using mulberry prunings
I made a basket from Mulberry watershoot prunings

The basket must be strong enough to carry a real load, so I didn’t want the handle to pull out easily. It must also be big enough to be practical. I am not experienced enough to make the weaving as regular and densely woven as baskets I already own, but people who can do things began somewhere, and I can learn! Practice will make me more proficient.

Mulberry Basket Circle handle with grid base beginning

I began by making a circle with 3 stems. It looked a bit like a wreath. It would become the handle.
And then I made that circle pass under some long straight stems so that it would serve as one cross bar in a grid I made of other stems as the beginnings of the base for the basket. I split the centres of the straight cross stems, each side of the handle. That helped hold the lengthwise stems in place.

Beginning to weave around the centre grid, forming the base of the basket.

I wove thinner pieces over and under around that central block, holding the handle in place. Gradually the base of the basket was built and became a flat oval. When it was nearly large enough, I inserted new canes to begin building the walls vertically. Some of the base canes bent nicely to become part of the walls, but others snapped off. It was a job for more than two hands, and involved using rags to tie the wood canes in place and a lot of holding my mouth and hands the right way, holding my breath and hoping…and yes it worked.

All the while I was collecting the leaves that I was stripping from the straight branches. They joined the others in a large bucket, and were eventually added to my next batch of compost. There is really no such thing as waste, and collecting them in a bucket first saved me the work of sweeping up later. The leaves were drying, but not yet crunchy. Each day I got to do a little bit more, but the wood was drying fast, and the sticks snapped more easily the drier they became. Eventually it was obvious that I needed to finish the job as soon as possible or I would have to wait for fresh prunings next season and would finish the basket much later.

Sides going up.

As the sides became taller, I needed something to hold the basket still while I worked tucking the vertical branches around what would become the rim of the basket. The slow cooker pot looked like just the tool for the job. It was heavy, and the right flat bottom, flat sides shape . It would also possibly be one of the things I would use the basket to carry. I was working against time, so I brought the basket inside to keep working after dark. In the photo here, you can see I am about half way around the rim.

Mulberry Basket being shaped around the slowcooker crock pot.

Later, I wove some thinner straight sticks through, filling some of the larger gaps. The leaves dried and the fruits which looked so adorable at first, ended up making stains on the garment I was wearing. It worked well carrying the milk and morning tea for a community garden gathering. Now it gets used to collect the bits of green from the garden for the next meal. In this photo you can see leaves of sweet potato, mint, basil, celery, and spring onion.

It feels very satisfying to use the basket made of prunings from my garden to gather produce to eat for dinner from the same garden.

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