As this paper aims to give a brief, but definite, description of a few ways of applying Indian basket-makers' methods to our own materials, it may not be amiss to call to mind the two great classes under which all baskets—diverse as they seem - may be grouped.
Types Of Sewed And Twined Baskets
(1) Those which are twined or woven.
(2) Those which are sewed or coiled. Under the first head are included all such as are made by twining a flexible material around spokes, usually crossing at the center in a wheel-like arrangement, but sometimes forming an ellipse or an oblong. In these baskets the methods of weaving are infinite. Three typical Indian styles are illustrated. Reed and willow baskets are also woven on this principle.
There are many varieties of coiled baskets. Some of the familiar stitches used in them are the "lazy squaw," the "pineapple," the "Mariposa" or "knot stitch," and the "Navajo" or "figure eight" stitch. The "Navajo" is an excellent stitch, as it produces a basket practically water tight and as firm as a rock. It is not confined to the tribe of Navajos, but is used with slight variations by the Apaches, Washoes of Nevada, Tulares, and others.
One of the most famous basket makers in the world is an old Indian woman of the Washoe tribe named Dat-So-La-Le. Her work commands fabulous prices. One basket contains 50,000 stitches, about thirty to the inch, although it is only seven and one-half inches high and ten across. It sold for $1,-500.00. Her baskets are wonderfully beautiful in form, they also excel in strength, and smoothness of execution. She uses very simple designs, and very few colors, depending on perfection of craftsmanship rather than on elaborate ornamentation. All Indian workers use such materials as are native to the regions where they live, simple grasses and barks, and sometimes twigs. Usually these are of the colors of the desert from which they were gathered, dull browns and blues, and the creamy yellow of the willow twigs from the springs, the reddish brown of red-bud bark, and glossy black of maiden-hair fern. Such as must be dyed are prepared with vegetable dyes, which only deepen with age, but these, too, are of the same scheme of brown, worked into a ground work of cream color.
In the East there are a few native materials in the shape of meadow grasses, corn-husks and rushes, but unless prepared at just the right time, they are not satisfactory. Corn-husks are the most satisfactory as they are so easily procured.
Sewed Basket In Pima Style. A Washoe Basket Made By Dat-So-La-Le
Raffia is perhaps the best material for the outer covering in coiled baskets, but it should be confined more or less to the color scheme of the Indians, the natural color for a basis, with touches of tan, brownish red, golden brown and a little black. Olive in a dull tone can also be used. Natural raffia can be obtained from a florist at about twenty cents a pound. It should be washed with soap, well rinsed, and hung in the sunshine to dry.
No. 2 reed is a good average size. A basket made in this number in Navajo stitch should be practically water-tight. A very simple design is given of a Tulare bowl-basket. The reed used must be soaked for ten minutes in warm water, then sharpened to a point.
Thread a needle with the large end of a strand of raffia to prevent fraying. The end of the reed is coiled with the fingers into a small spiral.
The center is sewed over and over, the end of the reed always extending to the left. The real figure eight stitch begins at the third row.