Cultivated varieties of willow
have been the basketry and furniture material of choice by basketmakers
worldwide for centuries. There was a strong willow growing and
willow basketry industry in the East and Mid-West United States
in the nineteenth century. Willows are a strong and flexible material.
The nature of willow to 'kink" gives tightness and resilience
to the finished product. The ability to make strong willow baskets
quickly and to exact dimensions filled the increased demand for
functional containers during the Industrial Revolution.
The willows for sale have been imported from
Europe. Four types of willow are available:
"STEAMED BROWN" -- the brown rods are given
an additional steaming to produce a deep brown color.
"BROWN" -- the rods are dried with the
bark remaining which has a greenish-brown hue.
"BUFF" -- the rods are dried with the bark
on and then boiled in tanks for several hours. The subsequent
peeling result in a soft red-brown color.
"WHITE" -- the rods are peeled to reveal
a white rod.
Rods are purchased by length. Three to eight
foot rods in brown, steamed brown, buff and white are usually
available for sale. Specific availability varies from time to
Samples of full length willows of brown, steamed
brown, buff and white willow are available for $15.00. This price
A willow basket can either be made from one
length of rods (such as four foots for a small basket) or from
several lengths of rods. Careful grading is important in both
cases, but especially in the first case. The thickest rods are
used in the bottom sticks.
The stakes are thinner than sticks and the waling
rods are usually thinner than stakes. Weavers in the siding will
be thinner than walers and usually of medium material. The thinnest
material may be reserved for the weaving of the base.
The longer the length of the willow rod, the
thicker the individual member and hence the lesser number of rods
per pound. There are approximately 90 to 100 rods or withies in
a pound of four-foot buff willow and 30 rods in a pound of six-foot
buff willow. One half to three quarters of a pound of willow is
necessary for a medium sized basket. Four- to six-foot willow
would be used in a medium-sized basket, with three- to four-foot
in a finer basket, and six- to eight-foot willows in a large basket.
Willows are worked in a damp condition which
means that they must be soaked in cold water in order to make
them pliable. After soaking, they should be covered in a cool
spot to mellow overnight. Times for soaking vary according to
the thickness and type of willow and your particular situation.
The following soaking times are given as a guide:
White and Buff Willow
Up to 4 feet.................half hour
4 to 6 feet.........half to one hour
6 to 8 feet......two to three hours
Up to 4 feet........two to three days
4 to 6 feet..........three to five days
6 to 8 feet.........five to seven days
Test: The willow is soaked enough when a butt
end will kink at 90 degrees without breaking and the bark stays
intact. Do not over-soak!
Prepared willow is velvety to the touch and
has no greasiness. Prepared willow, not in use, should be kept
covered as it will dry out easily. One should only prepare enough
willow for a few days use and dry all unused willow. Willow should
be stored dry and in a dry, dark place.
There is a minimum order of one pound of any type or length of
|Brown willow (3 to 8 foot**)
||$18.00 per lb
|Steamed brown willow (3 to 8 foot**)
||$19.00 per lb
|Buff willow (3 to 8 foot**)
||$20.00 per lb
|White willow (4 to 8 foot**)
||$21.00 per lb
|White willow (3 foot)
||$22.00 per lb
** Please specify exact foot length of willow
There is a minimum order of 10 pounds per individual
item: e.g., 4 foot buff.
|Price per Pound
Steamed Brown and Buff Willow
|10 pounds of one kind
* Top price is 4 ft. to 8 ft. willows; bottom
price is 3 ft. willows