When turning an old canvas backed CD shelf into a canning shelf, I liberated a heavy piece of plain canvas that had been stapled/nailed to the back. This painted canvas strip basket project was a great use for the salvaged canvas which had multiple staple holes, shelf indents, and hmm, a few dirt marks...
By painting the canvas and cutting it into thin strips, I created some fun and very sturdy basket material, where the imperfections of the canvas were not noticeable in the finished basket.
Step 1: Materials and Equipment:
- heavy cotton canvas (bigger than what you think you'll need)
- acrylic paint, paint brush, water
- laser cutter or metal ruler and exacto knife
- 4 tacks (rubber mallet, or very strong fingers)
- board, big enough for the base of your basket and heavy enough to keep it from moving around while you work (I used a scrap of 3/4" plywood)
- handfull of clothespegs
Step 2: Paint the Canvas
You can tack down your canvas to keep it in place or just start painting! I squirted colours here and there on the canvas, adding water and mixing colours in a way that appealed to me until i had most of the surface covered.
You do not need to cover every square inch of your canvas or be perfect about getting an even thickness, once it is cut into strips, the variation will make it even more interesting.
Once you are done painting your canvas, let it dry completely if you are cutting your strips with an exacto knife or with scissors. If you are using the laser cutter, it doesn't really need to be perfectly dry.
Step 3: Cut Strips
Decide on the dimensions of your basket and the width and length of your canvas strips.
I planned to make my basket base 3 1/2" square and as tall as my canvas piece would allow, which was 5". The strips were about 1/2" wide. I recommend making 1/2' to 1" wide strips, using thinner strips when making smaller baskets and wider strips for larger ones.
Make the strips for your sides at least as long as the length or width of your finished basket plus two times the desired height - add about 6" extra length to use when finishing the rim.
For my basket, I made 24 strips 1/2" wide and about 18" long - 12 strips for the side pieces (6 in each direction) and 12 more for the weavers travelling around the basket (11 strips high, plus one more for the inside of the rim). The minimum amount of canvas I needed to make enough strips for my basket was 12" x 18" but I was happy to have lots of leftover strips for other projects.
Because I did not stretch the canvas before I painted it and then painted it rather haphazardly, I knew it would dry unevenly and not lie completely flat. Using the laser cutter to cut my strips meant there was varying success in cutting all the way through the canvas, but where the laser was not focused properly for cutting through, it left clear toasty lines that were very easy to follow along and finish with scissors.
If you are using a straight edge of some sort, the easiest thing to do is to draw lines on the backside of your canvas the width of your straight edge and then cut on the lines.
Note: Your strips don't have to all be the same width, but it is much easier to weave if each individual strip is at least uniform in width.
Step 4: Tack Down and Weave Base
Lay out the number of strips you need for the width of your basket facedown on your board. Weave the strips for the length of your basket perpendicular to the strips already there by going under and over strips alternating the weave on each row (photo 2).
Centre your woven square/rectangle in the middle of your weavers to make sure you will have an even amount for the sides of your basket and tighten up your weave. Flip it over to see how the colours look on the other side!
Flip it back over and secure the corners with tacks and a rubber mallet by placing a tack through the two strips that cross at each corner.
Step 5: Fold Up Sides
Beginning in one corner, work your way around the base of your basket creasing the side pieces over the base perpendicular to the edge of the weave.
Loosely gather up the side pieces using an elastic to hold them out of the way for weaving.
Step 6: Weave Rows
Beginning in the middle of one side, take a strip and weave it under and over the side pieces moving around the basket until you reach the start of your weave again and then continue weaving behind the same strip, doubling up the weave until you run out of weaver. You need to overlap your weavers for a bit to help keep each row in place. If you have extremely long weavers, feel free to shorten them.
As you add rows of weavers and build up the height of your basket, occasionally use your hands to gently squeeze your basket in to tighten the weave, and then manually move the weavers down to keep weavers snugged up against the row below. I found that using clothes pegs to hold the top row in place helps to keep the weave together and is a good idea if you are working on it over time, to leave it pegged up (photos 6).
Step 7: Weave the Rim
Once you have added in your top row, making sure to leave 2-3'' of extra length left on all side pieces, you are ready to finish your rim.
Take one of the remaining strips and lay it on the inside of your basket with the painted side facing into the basket at the same height as the top row of weaving. This will give you something to fold over and add extra thickness to the rim (photo 1 and 2).
One at a time, fold the side pieces over this strip to the inside of the basket, tucking it in behind the first row of weaving visible. You will find that alternatively, one strip will tuck under the second row of weaving and the next will tuck under the third row (photo 2). Use clothespegs to keep your weaving snugged up as you move around your basket (photo 3).
Step 8: Untack Base and Trim Weavers
Remove the tacks holding your basket in place.
Begin by trimming the weaver ends that are sticking out inside the basket from your side pieces by gently pulling up on the end and cutting it to leave just enough length so that when you let it go again it slips out of sight under the piece it is woven under.
Using the same method trim weavers on the inside and outside of the basket.
Step 9: All Done
Enjoy your beautiful basket!