In traditional emaSwazi culture, baskets were woven by women and the techniques passed down from mother to daughter. Baskets were, and still are used as containers to transport or store objects or food, much like the plastic containers we all use today. They were, and still are, also used to hold gifts at various ceremonies such as weddings.
At Tintsaba, traditional weaving techniques have been incorporated into our product range of refined, highly detailed, brightly coloured designs. This has resulted in Tintsaba being recognised as ‘one of the top 3 weavers in the world’ and has earned us the reputation of being Master Weavers.
TECHNIQUE & STEPS:
At Tintsaba, we specialise in the Coiled Weave technique. This highly intricate process is painstaking and a 31cm Gallery Grade basket can take upwards of 50 or more hours to produce.
ONE: Spinning sisal
Once the sisal is dry it is delivered to the weavers where it is spun by hand. The weaver spins each individual fiber together to create a continuous ‘thread’. Spinning comprises approximately 50% of the total time it takes to make a basket.
TWO: Weaving the base
The weaver begins by creating the coil for the base. This is achieved by binding together a bundle of 2-3 stems of Lukhasi grass with the sisal thread. She then curls the end onto itself and continues to wrap and coil the grass. Various wrapping techniques are used to create the desired pattern.
THREE: Adding and working with colours
As the weaver continues, she widens the coils outwards from the base. Should the weaver choose to add a coloured pattern to her design, she will select a strand of sisal in the desired colour and add it to the end of the existing strand. The more colours in play – the more difficult. The maximum number of colours with which our weavers work, is seven (Rainbow Colourway view examples here).
When the basket reaches the desired size, the weaver will complete the last rotation in a single defining colour to create the rim of the basket. This colour is usually drawn from the range used in the pattern. Within this last rotation the other sisal colours are cut and sufficient grass is measured to complete the rotation. The rim is then precisely and tightly bound.
The last step is the grading process. Here our more experienced weavers grade the baskets according to various criteria (view grade definitions here). They are then labelled with a basket code and the weavers name. A sisal loop is then added to the back of the basket so that it may be attractively displayed.