How to Treat Fresh Reeds for Basket Weaving

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Using the right materials is important when making baskets.
Using the right materials is important when making baskets. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Prepared and packaged reeds are available in craft stores and from basketry supply retailers for those who want to weave their own baskets. However, some weavers prefer to use freshly-harvested reeds or other natural materials for their baskets. Follow two main steps to prepare your own reeds for making baskets. First, thoroughly dry out the fresh-cut reeds. Second, rehydrate them in warm water a few at a time to make them pliable for weaving.

Things You'll Need

  • Freshly-harvested reeds
  • Heavy twine or string
  • Hangers or clothesline
  • Scissors
  • Large shallow basin or bowl
  • Warm water
  • Paper towels

Gather eight to 10 freshly-cut reeds into a bunch and tie them together at the top with the twine. Hang the reed bunches from hooks, rafters, hangers or clothesline in a dark, dry, well-ventilated indoor location.

Allow reed bunches to dry completely, three to seven days, depending on the local humidity. Keep reeds from direct light to avoid discoloration.

Cut dried reeds to the desired size for your basket-weaving project. Fill the basin with warm (not hot) water. Place one or two reeds at a time into the water; soak for five to 10 minutes until the reeds are pliable but not soggy. Remove the reed(s) from the water and pat dry with paper towels.

Use the pliable reeds to begin weaving the basket. Soak additional reeds, one or two at a time, as needed to continue weaving. Do not soak more than a couple of the cut reeds at a time, or they may dry out before you can begin weaving with them. Periodically replace the water in the basin to maintain its warmth.

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