About Antler Basket Weaving & Antler Baskets
Information about antler basket weaving and antler baskets including general instructions of hand weaving your own antler handled basket.
Hand-woven and hand-made antler baskets are a unique basketweaving craft. Each basket is unique and no two are alike, as each natural or synthetic deer antler, elk antler or moose antler is unique. Antler "sheds" are antlers that are lost naturally when the deer produces new antlers. Deer and elk shed their antlers naturally each year in early Spring - usually between February and March. Many Native American Indian crafts incorporate antlers into their works.
Due to the nature of the antlers, the ribbed style of basketweaving is used to create these one of a kind antler baskets. Basket ribs are normally carved hardwood ribs of either a flat oval or round shape - long, strong and flexible. Some handwoven antler baskets are crafted by their basketweavers using a strong and sturdy rattan round reed - commercially available. Many basketweavers incorporate the antler into the framework of the basket, others lash the antler securely to the rims of an already hand-made basket.
Crafting and weaving an antler basket with the antler handle incorporated into the actual basketry framework entails many hours of work and an artistic eye to achieve a pleasing symmetry of weaving while maintaining the basket frame integrity. Many can take 30-40 hours of actual weaving to complete.
This timeframe does not include the selecting of the natural materials for the ribs, tapering the ribs, nor sanding the basket rims smooth. Most ribs are inserted in such a manner as to leave no more than 1-2" between the ribs at the widest part of the basket. The tighter the ribs are together, the stronger the basket, and the harder and more involved the actual basketweaving becomes.
Drilling holes into the antlers to prepare for basketweaving is done with a common drill and drill bit. The SMELL, however, you MUST be prepared for. The odor generated from drilling into natural antlers is obnoxious as best. It is, therefore, very highly recommended to do the actual drilling out of doors.
One can locate sources of natural antlers from taxidermy shops, local hunting organizations, or a friendly hunter family member or friend.
The materials used for the actual weaving of the antler basket are unlimited. This is where the true artistic talent of a basketweaver comes into play. Natural basketweaving materials, unusual natural materials which lend themselves to weaving, and even dyed natural materials are all used in such a way to obtain a visually pleasing and sturdy basket. The tighter the weaving, the stronger the finished basket.
Some basketweaving artists craft baskets exclusively with antlers, other basket weaving artists will make one or more during their lifetimes. Antler handled baskets can also incorporate natural accents like seed pods, wool yarns, deer buckskin or leather, feathers, vines and even beads and conchs. Some basket weavers even use the antler itself, carved, as a decorative accent to their woven baskets.
An antler basket is a valuable work of art - unique and a testament to a basketweaver's skill and artistic flare. Many antler baskets are crafted in such a way as to have a flat back for hanging from a wall, others are crafted to be decorative works of art, and others still are made for actual use as a basket to carry items.