How Woven Sisal Baskets are Made: A Photo Journal

Harvesting, Dyeing, Twining and Hand Weaving
basket weaver
In an era where mass production dominates, there is something very special about handcrafted goods. Every basket is crafted entirely by hand, a process that takes days to complete. This time-intensive approach creates an end product that machinery cannot replicate.

From the harvesting of fresh sisal shoots, to the botanical dyeing, and hand weaving – each basket reflects the individuality and expertise of its maker, resulting in a unique, durable and timeless piece of art.

From harvest to basket – the intricate process that blends tradition, craftsmanship, and creativity.

Harvesting sisal
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Step 1: Harvesting the Sisal

In the wetter more luscious areas of Kenya, our weavers grow and harvest their own sisal. In the drier areas, most weavers purchase organic sisal, as the plants don’t grow as quickly and attract elephants which trample crops.

To harvest the sisal, the weaver must removes a portion of the inner leaves from the plant. However, she must be careful not to take too much of the new growth, as this hinders the plants growth. Only the soft inner leaves of the plant can be used, as the tough outer leaves are too hard to strip by hand. These leaves can be stripped industrially, however, they do not have the same soft feel of the new inner leaves. The fibre is then laid out in the sun to dry.

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Step 2: Dyeing the Sisal

Fairly Made baskets are made using a combination of botanical/natural dyes and textile dyes.
Weavers prepares botanical dyes by gathering tree bark, leaves, tree roots, and soil.
A fire is prepared and the sisal fibre is boiled in the dye until the desired colour is achieved. It is then hung out to dry once again.
dyeing sisal
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Step 3: Twining

Twining is the process of turning sisal fibre into weavable twine. The weaver will gather a set number of fibres each time (the number varies depending on the style of basket she is weaving), pull them taught, and then roll them against a smooth surface to transform it into twine.

This process is a labour of love. It will take hours, and sometimes days, to create enough twine for her to weave a basket.

Twining sisal
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Step 4: Weaving

The weaver starts her work by forming the bottom of the basket and then moves up to the sides. Depending on the thickness of the twine, she will make 32-110 knots per inch. It is an incredibly intricate process that takes years to master. .

Each weaver chooses the colour palette and design for her basket, using unique patterns and different weaving styles to showcase her creativity and artistry.

The basket is finished by weaving a firm upper rim and securing any loose sisal strands into the basket. The weaver then signs her name onto a piece of cardboard and ties it to her finished basket – her piece of art is now complete.

basket weaving
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At Fairly Made, we partner with remarkable women from under-represented communities to make our baskets. Our aim is to showcase their exceptional craftsmanship and provide sustainable employment – allowing them to care for their families and uplift their communities.

When you purchase baskets from Fairly Made, you become part of her story – a story of hope, resilience, and extraordinary creativity.

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