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small end of a wand, and passing it once or twice round the cross formed by the points of intersection; after which one, or perhaps two, secondary ribs are introduced on each side of the vertical main rib. The wattling is then proceeded with a little farther, when two or more secondary ribs are introduced; and this process is continued till a sufficient number of subordinate ribs are put in to support the wattling of the entire structure. For coarse baskets, wattled with rods having the bark on, the distance of 3 in. or 4 in. between the subordinate ribs, at the widest part, will be sufficient; but for baskets made of peeled rods, even of the largest size, 4 in. are rather too much. When the form of the basket is a square or a parallelogram, exactly the same process is pursued; but greater care and skill are required in bending both the main ribs and the subordinate ribs to the required forms. To facilitate this, the rods which are to form the main ribs, and also those for the secondary ribs, are split up the middle; and, to render it easier to bend them, they are steeped for some hours in cold water. The rods intended for the subordinate ribs are sometimes split into four parts; and, in bending both the main and the subordinate ribs, the pith is always kept inwards, so that the outer side presents a smooth surface. When the rods are to be split in two, a common knife is made use of; but when they are to be split into three or more parts, a piece of hard wood, 7 in. or 8 in. long, and about 1 in. in diameter, and cut so as to present three or four sharp edges radiating from its centre, called a cleaver, is made use of. The knife being entered at the thick end of the rod, so as to split it into three or four parts for the length of 1 in., the split part is entered on the cleaver, and drawn against it till the whole rod is split from one end to the other. This process is more simple, rapid, and easy in the execution, than in the description.
Another Scotch mode of forming baskets and small hampers is, by commencing at the centre of what is to form the bottom, and working from that outwards, and, after the bottom is completed, upwards. In proceeding according to this mode, two ribs, or larger wands, are laid on the floor, crossing each other at right angles; and one or two small wands are woven round them, as a nucleus in which to insert the end of other ribs. These ribs, it is evident, may be increased in number, and extended in direction, at pleasure, so as either to make the bottom of the basket circular, oval, or rightangled. When the work is completed as far as the sides, the ribs are turned upwards, and the work continued in a perpendicular direction as high as required; when a horizontal rod, or rim, can be introduced, and made fast to the upright rods by wattling. If a handle is wanted, it can readily be added.
The English mode of basket-making, which is in many respects easier than the Scotch and German mode, is effected by means of willow rods of one year's growth alone; whereas the Scotch mode requires the addition of rods of two years' growth for the handles, rims, and ribs; and, in the case of all baskets intended to be tolerably strong, of rods, for these purposes, of a tough and more durable kind of wood, such as ash, oak, hazel, &c. By the English mode, the workman begins on the floor, on which he lays two, three, or more rods, but commonly three, parallel to and touching each other, and cut to the length of the diameter of the bottom of the basket. On these three rods are placed other three, parallel to and touching each other at right angles, cut also to the length of the diameter of the bottom of the basket. The operator now puts his foot on the centre of intersection of the six rods, and begins to make the rods fast there, by interweaving, or wattling, round them, with small rods. As he proceeds with his interweaving, he frequently turns round the skeleton bottom, under his foot, spreading out the rods which form the ribs, so that their extremities, after two or three courses of wands have been woven in, are at equal distances from each other in the circumference of what is to form the bottom of the basket, like the spokes of a wheel. The weaving being carried on to the full extent of the bottom, the latter is now turned upside down, and, the points of the radiating ribs being cut off, a willow rod is inserted
on each side of each rib, and turned upwards; the whole being kept in an upright position by being bound slightly together at their upper extremities. Rods are now interwoven between these upright rods, as high as required for the depth of the basket; after which the rods are loosened at the top, and their ends brought down and plaited into an edge or brim, which, as we have before observed with regard to splitting the willows, is an operation much more easily and rapidly performed than described. A small round basket or hamper is now produced, like those in which potatoes are exposed for sale in the London markets, and to this a handle may be added by inserting in the interwoven part of the sides two or three rods close together, at opposite points of the rim, pushing them down to near the bottom, and plaiting their upper ends together so as to form a handle. A handle is also sometimes made by forcing down the ends of a thick rod, in the woven work, before the rim is completed; and plaiting round it two or more of the ends of the rods which form the ribs from each side. The durability of the Scotch basket is much greater than that of the English one; not only on account of the greater durability of the handle and ribs, but, in the case of peeled rods, by the bark being loosened by boiling, instead of by the rising of the sap.
Both modes of basket-making will readily be understood from the following figures:
Fig. 1277. shows the handle and rim of the commonest form of Scotch basket, made fast at the points of intersection.
Fig. 1278. shows the same skeleton, with the ribs of one side added, and the wattling, or woven work, commenced.
Fig. 1279. shows the commencement of the English mode of basket-making; in which a represents the six rods that are to form the bottom of the basket,
laid down crossing each other at right angles; and b the second stage, in which the rods are made fast by the commencement of the weaving process.
Figs. 1280. and 1281. show the progress of weaving the bottom; the latter being what ultimately becomes the under side, and the former the upper side.
Fig. 1282. shows the bottom complete, the under side of it being uppermost. Fig. 1283. shows the bottom turned upside down, the points of some of the radiating ribs cut off; some of the rods
which are to form the side ribs inserted; and the side weaving commenced, as indicated by the four rods at c.
Fig.1284. shows the basket nearly completed, with part of the rim finished, and the rod on which the handle is to be placed inserted.
Fig. 1285. shows the rim completed, and part of the handle plaited.
These details will be sufficient to enable every gardener or woodman to form a common
coarse basket, which, we think, is all that, in the present state of the division of labour, can be required of him. Those who are desirous of farther information on this subject may consult our article already referred to, in the Gard. Mag., vol. xiii., or the Encyclopædia Britannica, ed. 1836; or, if they have an opportunity, spend an hour or two in the manufactory of an extensive basket-maker.
Baskets made of peeled rods, when completed, are washed with clean water, and afterwards put into a close room, and bleached by the vapour of sulphur. A small iron vessel is made red-hot, and set in the centre of the room, which is filled with baskets piled up all round the sides of the room. A lump of
sulphur (1 lb. is sufficient for a room 10 ft. on every side, and 10 ft. high) is then dropped into the iron vessel, and the operator instantly leaves the room, shutting it close, and leaving it for ten or twelve hours, generally all night. The chemical explanation of the mode in which the sulphureous gas generated operates has not, we are informed by chemists, been yet satisfactorily given. Some kinds of osiers whiten much better than others. One of the best for this purpose is S. amygdalina; next, S. triándra, and S. decipiens; and the worst is S. Forbyana, the rods of which cannot be whitened at all.
Profit of a Plantation of Osiers for Wickerwork or Basketwork. Much has been said of the great profit to be obtained from a plantation of willows for hoops or basket-making; on which, as in all similar cases, it may be observed, that extraordinary care, in the case of any crop whatever, will be attended with extraordinary produce; and that, wherever there is extraordinary profit without extraordinary care, there must be extraordinary risk. This last is the case with willow plantations, in common with those of the hop, of rape for seed, and of various other crops. Mitchell quaintly remarks that, where a quantity of land is planted with basket willows, "a man will do well to make a net profit of 107. per acre; for the plants are very subject to the depredations of insects." In the Transactions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, vol. xxiii., for 1805, an account is given of a plantation of seven acres, made in the fen lands of Ely, from which we extract the following details: - The land was cast into beds 12 ft. wide, and raised 18 in. higher than the general surface, by the earth taken out of the intervening open drains, Fourteen thousand sets were planted per acre, and the following is an account of the result:
The additional expense of peeling would be about 41. per acre; but the rods peeled would have sold at a much higher price in proportion.
In vol. xxiv. of the same work, an account is given of a willow plantation in Suffolk, in which the ground was ploughed and harrowed; the expense of which, and of planting the sets, was 21. 2s. per acre; and the number of sets planted was 12,000 per acre, which cost 10. The price of cuttings of osiers, in Cambridgeshire, in 1826, was, for S. viminàlis, 8s. per thousand, and for the less common kinds, 10s. or 12s. per thousand. Sang mentions inferior soils in Scotland, which have produced from 251. to 30l. per acre for several years in succession; the annual expense of cleaning being from 25s. to 35s. per acre, exclusive of cutting, rent, interest of prime cost, and other charges.
Culture of the Willow for Hedges.-The best kinds of willows for hedges are those which belong to S. càprea, because the young shoots of these kinds are most rigid, and are certain of annually ripening their wood; while the catkins are the most valuable of all others for bees; and the clippings, or trimmings, which should be cut off in August or September, are the most valuable of willow fodder for horses and cattle. Add, also, that this species of willow is one of the most durable and woody kinds, and that when the hedge is cut down it will reproduce itself the same season; and, with a little assistance from art, become a fence the season following.
Fences of live Willow are, in some cases, formed by inserting rods of two years' growth, such as are used for making hoops, reduced to the length of 6 ft.; and 1 ft. or 1 ft. 6 in. being inserted in the soil, a fence is at once produced 4 ft. 6 in. in height. These rods may either be inserted in a vertical direction parallel to each other,
and 6 in. or 8 in. asunder, as in fig. 1287. a; in a sloping direction parallel to each other, as in fig. 1287. b; or crossing each other at right angles, as in fig. 1286. In the latter case, the rods require, in order to make a fence
5 ft. 6 in. high, to be cut to the length of 7 ft. or 8 ft.; but a fence so formed has this advantage, that the rods may be much farther apart than when they are placed either vertically or sloping, and parallel to each other. In the two latter cases, also, a top rod, or rail, is required to unite the ends of the parallel rods: