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Making the Most of Baskets
Of all the items in common use by households across the globe, baskets must be among the most enduring. They provide an unbroken link that can be traced back as far as the times of such lost civilizations as those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The flimsy remains of baskets have also been discovered in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, and it is reasonable to assume that they were being used by our ancestors centuries before that.
Baskets were originally designed purely for everyday use, for such humble tasks as storing utensil or food, and for fetching and carrying. Their widely varying styles, which we find so attractive today, grew out of practical need, their shapes evolving according to the particular use they were going to be put to. Baskets for loaves, for example, needed to be long and shallow, while baskets for storing rice or cooking paraphernalia needed to be narrow and deep.
Over the centuries, these basically mundane household objects took on entirely different roles. People began to recognize them for many uses other than those for which they were originally intended. And so they were pressed into many other roles, from the everydaysuch as storing newspapersto the fun, as receptacles for pretty flower arrangements, for pinecones, dried grasses and seedheads, or even for Christmas baubles.
We are lucky today in that we have a veritable United Nations of baskets available to us, imported from all over the world. So while our own country's baskets may be both attractive and beautifully made, we can still satisfy our desire for the unusual: after all, it is always fun to try something different.
Baskets as constructed from natural materials, whether it be willow, rush, rattan or plywood. As we become more aware of our threatened environment, this becomes a definite plus. We are happy to use something entirely natural, especially if it means banishing nonbiodegradable plastic containers to the rubbish heap of history.
Every household will have a basket or two somewhere, whether it is in day-to-day use or sitting forgotten in a corner. If yours are hidden away, now is the time to brush off the dust and turn your basket into something truly splendid, worthy of a prime position in your home, with the help and inspiration of the ideas contained in this book.
The glory of this is that it is so simple. There is no need to trek off to the store and spend a lot of money on equipment: instead, whatever you have to hand can be pressed into use either to decorate or else to fill your baskets. The key is improvisation. It is astonishing how something as plain and utilitarian as a shopping basket can be dressed up, with the help of a few ribbons or strands of ivy, to look unusual and special, worthy of being filled with something appealing.