Artisan Handmade Woven Baskets

A design essential, adding to the home’s aesthetic appeal, our handwoven baskets offer versatile use for storage, whether it be for books, toys, towel, keys and more. The easily decomposable, high quality, organic material baskets are made across the globe from our talented entrepreneurs residing throughout the African continent. Since they are made very durably, it makes for a costly creation, however their eco-friendly design, using elephant grass, makes it well worth the cost. The baskets are made based on your preference and desired use, with options of many colors to meet your desires!

The Origin of the African Homemade Baskets

The weaving of Bolga baskets originated from the northern parts of Ghana in Bolgatanga. During the dry weather stricken months, farmers and their families turned to weaving as a way to make a living. The grasses used are bountiful in the winter months providing an ample supply for the weavers. The practice continued to grow and was passed down through generations, spreading throughout Ghana.

Grasses Used

The uppermost part of the Kinkanhe, African elephant grass, produces a floury section which is the part that is cut and used for weaving. The remaining bottom section of the plant continues to grow, producing for the next season. After the grass is equally cut, it’s time for the drying process to take place.

Wondering about the entirety of the weaving process? Let’s dive right in!

The Weaving Process

Taking approximately four days to weave just one bolga basket, makes for a tiresome, yet rewarding practice. Beyond these baskets serving as beautiful pieces in the home, they serve as fortunes for the weavers.
  • To start, the artisans help gather the various elephant straws, as previously mentioned.
  • Next, the drying process takes place which is followed by soaking the grass and apportioning into two smaller pieces. This helps the simplification of the weaving process.
  • During this time, the straws are also dyed (more on this below).
  • To obtain a strong, sturdy structure, the grass is twisted and later untwisted followed by drying the grass a final time.
  • It’s finally time to weave!
  • In the process, the artisans constantly flick water on the basket to ensure malleability as they go.
  • The baskets are ready to be trimmed of unwanted straws using a razor for precision and neatness.
  • To finalize the baskets, handles are attached across the top using either a vegan leather or additional woven straws

The Process of Dying

According to the customer’s unique preference, a dye is chosen. This step takes time, as the artisans want to ensure the dye soaks through the grasses to obtain the right degree of pigmentation. The chosen color dye is added to boiling water and mixed to achieve a homogeneous solution. After the grasses are soaked in the solution for the proper amount of time, they’re removed and left to dry completely. Eventually, the weaving begins from the bottom up, incorporating the desired pattern of choice.
Wondering about the entirety of the weaving process? Let’s dive right in!

Timing of the Process

The length it takes for one basket to be made is highly dependent on the expertise of the weaver. An experienced individual can complete a basket in 2.5-4 days at most, not including the harvesting and drying times. Many weave a few baskets per week, depending on their goals.

Advantages of
Weaving Baskets

For many, these baskets make for an easier way of living, especially in Northern parts of Ghana. During the dry season of farming, the art of weaving serves as income for families. Women enjoy crafting the baskets while engaging in conversation with others. Specific advantages include:
  • Preventing starving for the farming families during the dry season, as the weaving becomes steady income
  • Culturally, in many countries such as Kenya and Africa, the baskets serve as a source of pride as women carry them around and to the markets.
  • As part of our foundation’s mission in giving back, we’ve helped to rebuild houses for villagers who have lost their homes from tragic events.
  • Eco-friendly materials make for high environmental conservation, with no use of plastics.

Growing Our Community

As part of our mission, we live by giving back. Our foundation is more than a marketplace. We are a community in which we commit to teaching others about the entire African culture. In living out what we are built on, the essential human virtues of compassion and humanity, we run weekend youth workshops teaching new weavers the craft so they can earn a living. Our community incorporates teaching such as math, English and art. In continued dedication of living out our mission, we donate a portion of our earnings to charities that support weavers and their families during times of crisis. This money goes towards food, healthcare, school fees and home repairs. Together with our partners, we support approximately 500 weavers. Beyond the basket weaving communities, we work with fashion designers, bead workers, sculptors, and textile weavers. With open arms we welcome you to join in growing our community. All donations are graciously received in which we will use to support all mentioned African communities.

The Takeaway

The hope is that this article provided you with a greater understanding of the art of weaving, the origin, how the process works and how you can be a part of our growing community here at Project Upendo. For the weavers, these baskets mean much more than we may realize when purchasing. While they are a global trend, they provide the entrepreneurs with great profits and it’s with excitement we will continue to support these communities.