Basket weaving (also basketry, basket making, or basketmaking) is the process of weaving unspun vegetable fibers into a basket or other similar form. People and artists who weave baskets are called basketmakers or basket weavers.
Basketry is made from a variety of fibrous or pliable materials or anything that will bend and form a shape; such as, pine, straw, stems, animal hair, hide, grasses, thread, or wood.
Baskets can be classified into four types:
Coiled Baskets - made of grasses or rushes
Plaited Baskets - made of materials that are wide and ribbon-like, such as palm fronds or yucca leaves
Twined Baskets - made of tree bark and roots
Wicker and Splint Baskets - made of reed, cane, willow, oak, or ash
Weaving with a rattan core (also known as reed) is one of the more popular techniques being practiced because it is easily available. It is pliable and when woven correctly, it is very sturdy. Also, while traditional materials like oak, hickory, and willow might be hard to come by, reed is plentiful and can be cut into any size or shape that might be needed for a pattern. This includes flat reed, which is used for most square baskets; oval reed which is used for many round baskets; and round reed which is used to twine. Another advantage is that reed can also be easily dyed. The type of baskets that reed is used for are most often referred to as "wicker" baskets, though another popular type of weaving known as "twining" is also a technique used in most wicker baskets.
A basket is made up of the base, the side walls, and the rim. A basket may also have a lid, handle, or embellishments. A wide variety of patterns can be made by changing the size, color, or by placement of a certain style of weave. Most baskets begin with a base. The base can either be woven with reed or wooden. A wooden base can come in many shapes to make a wide variety of shapes of baskets. The 'static' pieces of the work are laid down first. In a round basket they are referred to as 'spokes'; in other shapes they are called 'stakes' or 'staves'. Then the 'weavers' are used to fill in the sides of a basket.
Popular styles of wicker baskets are vast, but some of the more notable styles in the United States are Nantucket Baskets and Williamsburg Baskets. Nantucket Baskets are large and bulky while Williamsburg Baskets can be any size, so long as the two sides of the basket bow out slightly and get larger as it is woven.