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Basket / Bowl making help Answered


I want to make my own bread proofing basket (Brotform or Banneton).

I've had a look on google but can't find any instructions or guides. I wonder does anyone have experience of basket making that could help? It would you start with a wooden mould. You then take softened reeds or canes and create the basket in what looks like one long coil. The ridges leave marks in the finished bread.

I need to know what materials to use (I'm thinking probably peeled rattan) and where to get it in the UK, ideally Manchester. I've been googling away but only seem to find cane furniture sites. I don't think any adhesive is used, I think you just pin the cane into place every few inches.

Here's an image of the type of thing I'm after:




Is willow 'food safe'? I'll look into where I might source some up this way. It's going to be expensive using peeled rattan.....

Rattan is a catch-all name for hundreds of species of tropical trees found in the Southern Hemisphere that are used in furniture production, baskets etc. In the Northern Hemisphere, we have hundreds of species of Willow Trees, and when woven into baskets and furniture it takes on the name Wicker. Aside from being different species of trees, their uses are basically the same and are safe to use just like a wooden spoon or any other wooden kitchen tool (that's kept clean of course). So there is really no benefit to importing rattan when you have FREE sources of willow in your region. :-)

Well of course, I'd much prefer to use local canes. It's just a matter of finding a local supplier. Looks like it's back to Google! :)

If you have any streams or creeks near where you live, that will be your best supplier. :-)

Lol, no, no creeks or streams here in Manchester, plus I think it will need to have been finished to a certain standard before I can use it - not green straight from the plant...hehe :D

You laugh, but within a 2 minute Google search, I found a blog with photos showing willow trees growing along the banks of the River Medlock right in Manchester. There's an easily accessible parking lot located behind the Palace Hotel (on Oxford St) near The Arches where you can get at the trees (I doubt anyone would care that you snipped a few branches)...

Then decide if you want the bark removed or not, and then allow them to dry out and shrink slightly over a week or two (or speed up the drying process with a low temperature oven). After that, you need to rehydrate them to make them pliable for bending into shape. If they have no bark, they will need a few hours to soak, and if they have bark they'll need about a day per foot in length to soak before they can be used. Then simply bend them into shape (over a bowl for example). To secure the coil without adhesive, you could drill out several holes and use wood dowels instead.

As a side note, many baskets etc are made directly from green willow, but because of the shrinkage which occurs during the initial drying phase, most prefer to pre-dry them and rehydrate them for use.

Hmm. Not really sure about the forraging side of things. Of course it would be great to have free raw materials, but I don't really have the space to work them. It would be easier in summer. At the moment I live in a shared house. This means I only have my room and the garden areas to work with. In summer I'll be able to dry them in the sun then rehydrate the canes by rigging some kind of trough from a half section of pipe, but out of season months I think it'll be too cold to do anything outside.

The bark will have to come off. The outer of the cane will be in direct contact with the bread dough, so I'd like a nice clean surface.

It may turn out that I'm unable to use willow at all because of the taper on the cane - or that may come to my rescue, making it easier to work with in smaller lengths with my limited space for drying & soaking. If it's unsuitable I'll have to go back to plan A which is to use kooboo cane.

Plenty to think about, but you really are providing some very helpful information. The next thing to think about will be how to nail or staple the cane. A wooden form is used to coil the cane around & it's pinned every few inches. I don't have a compressor, so I can't really use an air nail gun (canned air is far too expensive) but I'm worried tapping the pins in by hand may increase risk of splitting the cane. Any thoughts?

Thanks :D

If you look at the photo you provided, you can see that on the right side of the bowl there is a joint, which means they used more than one length to complete it; so I don't think there is any harm if you have to do the same. Willow is something that grows long rather quickly, and from the photos I saw, the lengths were fairly substantial and within reach at that location. (I'm also fairly certain that you could find more at other sites along the water). But I do understand the lack of appeal in working in the cold, however you could harvest the material now, warm it up and remove the bark, then leave it hanging in a closet until Spring (and by then it will most certainly have dried and done all the shrinking it will do). You just need to ensure you have enough overall length to work with (in whatever diameter you want).

I'm certainly not trying to dissuade you from using other materials either, but in my opinion, because the materials are so similar, it makes about as much sense for someone in the south to import willow branches when they have rattan at hand in their backyards. You will achieve the same result with homegrown materials.

To secure the coil, you could use (non-rusting) staples while its being formed and it shouldn't split. The material (whatever you use) has to be softened in water to make it pliable, and really shouldn't split from hand tapping in staples or nails. In earlier days (when power tools weren't available), they would use sharp tools to bore out holes and would then hand tap hardwood dowels (like a skewer) to hold pieces together like this that weren't otherwise woven like a traditional basket. I think the best thing to do is harvest a little more material than you need, and run some tests using all three methods (nails, staples and dowels) and see which one was easier and gave you the best results when the pieces dry.

How about willow? They apparently grow everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, and can easily be found along water sources. They've been used for centuries to make baskets and other things, and should work well for this purpose.

This is what I'm hoping to create. Minus the dough of course.