Baskets, for many cultures, are like the original Tupperware used to carry objects or food from one place to another or as storage. In Swazi culture the baskets are traditionally woven by women, and the technique is passed down, from mother to daughter. Baskets are used to hold gifts at various ceremonies such as weddings.
As years went on and techniques refined, the evolution of the art can be seen in Tintsaba's baskets: highly detail patterns and designs with bright colours. Tintsaba is recognised as being 'one of the top 3 weavers in the world' and earned the reputation of being Master Weavers in Sisal.
TECHNIQUE & STEPS:
At Tintsaba, we specialise in the Coiled Weave. A 31cm Gallery Grade Basket can take upwards of 50 or more hours to produce.
ONE: Spinning sisal
The sisal is spun to create a continuous ‘thread’, the spinning of the sisal is around 50% of the total time to weave a basket. The spinning is done by hand, one sisal fiber at a time.
TWO: Starting the weave coil
Using 2-3 fibres of Lukhasi grass and wrapping the spun sisal around the end to cover the grass. The weaver then curls the end onto itself and continues to wrap the grass with the sisal. Continuing wrapping the grass and the spiral of the basket base. Various wrapping techniques can be used to benefit the pattern of the basket.
THREE: Adding and working with colours
As the weaver continues, they may want to add various colours to create a design in the basket. They add ends of the spun sisal in the desired colour to the grass and continue wrapping. When they want to swap out the colours they pull the second colour and wrap it around the first colour and grass. The more colours you have the more difficult; the maximum number of colours our weavers work with is seven (Rainbow Colourway view examples here).
When the weaver reaches the desired size basket, the last rotation is completed in a complimentary colour. In this last rotation the other sisal colours are cut to finish and the grass is only enough the finish the basket. The final step is binding, the binding is gradual and should appear clean.
The last step is the grading process where our experienced weavers grade (view grade definitions here) the baskets and assign the correct labels with the weavers name and basket codes. A sisal hook is added on the back so that buyers can hang the basket if they wish.