Reed Furniture

Inasmuch as there is a great de-mand for reed furniture and since good weavers are comparatively few in number, it would be well to learn the process of reed weaving. The weaving operations can be learned much better through the construction of some small article, such as a basket or jardinere cover. The center is the most difficult part of the basket making, and it is best to begin with wood bottoms, as the whole basket can be kept in a much better form due to the stiffness furnished by such a bottom. It is also an approach to the reed furniture which is woven on framework. The objectionable feature of the wood bottoms is the unfinished appearance the wood edge showing through, but this can be overcome by the use of the roll shown in the illustration.

While the wood bottoms have been used for this class of work for a number of years, the roll is new and is very popular with those who have seen and used it. The roll can be placed in many ways on different-shaped baskets, and other reed pieces, so that it is best to master this piece of work thoroughly before attempting the other, or larger, pieces that will be described later, in other articles. The description is for a basket 5 in. in diameter and 3 in. high, as shown in the illustration. A disk of wood, !/4 in. thick and 5 in. in diameter, is required. Basswood makes the best bottom, but pine, or cedar, will do. Cut a board about 6 in. square, and draw diagonal lines on it intersecting at the center, then draw a circle, 5 in. in diameter, as shown in Fig. 1; also another circle, using the same center, 4 3/4in. in diameter. Set compass points about 5/8 in. apart, and step off spaces on the inner circle to make 24 points. This will have to be tried out more than once, to get the spaces to come out evenly and just have the right number of points. Holes are bored with a 1/8-in. bit, just inside of the inner circle, back of the places marked by the compass points, as shown in Fig. 2. Cut the board on the outside circle with a coping, or turn, saw, to make the circle, as in Fig. 3. Do not saw out the circle before boring the holes, as otherwise the disk might split out in places. The reeds placed vertically are called spokes, and the horizontal ones are the weavers. For the spokes, what is called a No. 4 reed is used. Do not wet the spokes before putting them through the wood. Allow the ends to project about 5 1/2 in. below the bottom, as shown in Fig. 4. Place the bottom, with the spokes, in water, and soak them thoroughly, especially the part below the bottom. About 15 minutes of soaking will be sufficient to make them pliable enough to bend over at right angles. It will not injure the wood bottom to soak it with the reeds. As shown at A, Figs. 4 and 5, each spoke below the wood bottom is bent down and back of the two nearest spokes, B and C, then out between the third and fourth spokes, C and D, and so on. The last two spokes, Y and Z, Fig. 6, are forced under the spokes A and B, respectively. In this illustration the spoke Y is shown as it is being inserted under the spoke A. When this operation is completed, the bottom will have the appearance of a fireworks pinwheel.

A Reed Basket 606A Reed Basket 607

Continue the bending of the spokes, in the same direction, up and across the thickness of the wood in front of three other spokes and behind the fourth, as shown in Fig. 7. This would not cover the edge of the wood entirely, and, for this reason, other short spokes must be inserted in front of each of the first ones before it is brought up

Fig.4 Fig.6

Ill: Fig.4 Fig.6


The Bottom is Cut from a Piece of Wood to Give Strength and to Avoid the Most Difficult Part of the Weaving; the Reeds are Attached to the Bottom and Their Lower Ends Bent as Shown across the edge of the wood. These supplementary spokes should be about 4 in. long-. The manner of inserting


A Reed Basket 609

Fig.12 c

Fig.10 F10.II A B C D E

The Lower Ends of the Spokes are Turned to Cover the Edge of the Bottom. Then the Reeds are Woven into the Upright Spokes to the Right Height, Where They are

Broken Down and Woven into a Top Border these spokes before making the bend is shown at G and T, Fig. G. The double spokes must be pressed down flat, when brought up in place, without riding one on the other. If the ends are too long and interfere with the next pair, they can be cut off a little with a flat chisel, or knife, being careful not to make them too short, or the pieces will not stay in place. If there is still an open space, an extra, short spoke can be inserted to crowd the pieces together and fill up the space.

When the roll is completed, insert three weavers, of No. 3 reed that has been soaked about 15 minutes, placing them between the spokes A and B, B and C, and C and D, as shown in Fig.

8. Pass weaver L in front of the spokes B and C, then back of D and out between D and E. Weaver M is passed in front of C and D, back of E and out in front of E and F. These operations are clearly shown in Fig.

9. The weaver N is placed in front of D and E, back of F and then in front of G and H. At this point the weaver L is used again. The weaver farthest behind each time is brought in front of the two spokes nearest to it, then behind the third and out in front of the next two spokes. Do not try to use weavers longer than 8 ft., which is about half the length of a reed. When a weaver is used up, press it back to the side a little, push in a new reed about 1 1/2in., and continue the weaving. This is clearly shown in Fig. 10. This weaving is known as the triple weave, which cinches down well and holds tightly. The first round should be carefully worked, so as to get the ends of the roll properly pressed down flat in place. Each throw of the weaver should be well pressed down.

The break-down-tight border is used for the finish at the top. The first operation in making this border is shown in Fig. 11. The spoke A is bent over back of spoke B and out between spokes B and C. The spoke B is bent over back of the spoke C and out between C and D, and so on, until the spoke E is turned down. Then take the end of the spoke A, Fig. 12, and lay it over B, C, D, and E, in front of F, back of G, and out between G and H. The end of spoke F is then brought down, also between G and H, but back of the end of A. The end of B takes a similar leap, passes behind H and out between H and J ; then G is brought down behind the end of B, in the same manner as F was brought down back of A. The last four or five spokes are the most difficult to handle, as they must be forced through the first ones to correspond with those already in place. It is best not to pull the ends of A, B, C, and D down too tightly at first, keeping in mind that the last ones must be inserted under the first ones. The last standing spokes are represented by the full and shaded lines.

If the roll illustrated in Figs. 11 and 12 is too difficult, a simple break-down can be used, such as shown in Fig. 13. To make this finish, spoke A is turned back of spoke B, in front of spoke C and back of spoke D, but not out again. Spoke B is bent back of C, in front of D, and back of E. The others are turned down the same way. The manner in which the two last spokes are turned down and inserted is shown. by the double dotted lines.

The remainder of the illustrations show the method of forming a roll between the first and second spokes, where only three spokes are turned down before the throwing-across process begins. The first three spokes turned down are shown in Fig. 14, and the throwing over, in Fig. 15. The second beginning is shown in Fig. 16. The finishing of this top is shown in Figs. 17 and 18. The full, heavy lines represent the final insertions, and the reed must be in quite a sharp loop to make the end enter the right place. It is then drawn down and forced in front of the other reed that passes out between the same spokes.

When the basket is dry, the long ends can be cut off close up with a

A Reed Basket 610

Ill: Fig.16

A Simple Break-Down Roll for the Top, Also a Method of Forming a Roll between the First and Second Spokes Where Only Three Spokes are Turned Down Before the Throwing-Across Process Begins knife, being careful not to cut a weaver. If there are hairy fibers sticking out they can be singed off over a gas, or other, flame that will not smut. If it requires bleaching, brush some chloride of lime, mixed in a little water, over the reeds and set in the sunlight for a short time. It is better to leave the finish a little dark rather than use too much bleaching, as the latter will give an objectionable whitish appearance that looks like a poor job of painting.

In working the reeds, do not leave them in the water longer than necessary, as this will turn them dark. A bleached reed will stand the water much longer than in the natural state. Dampen the reed frequently while weaving it, as the weavers pack down much closer when wet. The dampening process is also required to remedy the drying out caused by whisking the reeds through the air in weaving operations. A great variety of baskets can be made from this form, viz., low, tall, tapering vase forms, bowl shapes, etc., in plain or dark weaves.