Rattan is a climbing palm plant that produces very long stems. More than 600 species of rattan grow throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. The stems, called reeds, are used to make furniture, baskets and canes and are a main source of income for the people of those regions. You can use rattan for breadbaskets, flowerpot holders, wastebaskets or miniature wall hangings with a spray of dried or silk flowers. A round basket is the easiest shape for a beginning basket weaver.
Soak the rattan in a pail of water until it is pliable enough for weaving. Otherwise, the reeds will split as you try to work with them. Keep a spray bottle of warm water handy to spray the reeds as you work.
Measure and cut 10 pieces that are 3 feet long and 15 pieces that are 4 feet long. The 3-foot pieces are the spokes of the basket and the 4-foot pieces will weave in and out of the spokes.
Push a T-pin through the center of a piece of cardboard, such as an empty cereal box. With the T-pin facing up, place six pieces of the 3-foot reeds onto the T-pin. These reeds are the spokes of your basket. Arrange the spokes so they form a circle with one spoke facing each hour of the clock. Lock them in place by opening the T-pin.
Measure 1-1/2 inches from the T-pin and draw a line on each spoke. This line is the starting point for the first row of weaving.
Select a piece of rattan that is 4 feet long. Put one end on the inside of the spokes and begin weaving by going over three reeds and then under three reeds. Use your pencil lines as guides to keep the weaving straight.
Weave completely around the circle and then overlap the previous weaves until you finish the length. Overlapping locks the reed in place and strengthens the basket. Hold the reed in place with a clothespin so it will not slide as you weave the second piece.
Place the second piece of rattan as close as possible to the first one. Alternate the pattern of three over and three under so the three spokes that were under in the first row will be over in the second row. Move the clothespin to the second row of rattan.
Repeat this alternating pattern for the third and final row to complete the bottom of the basket.
Bend the spokes upward to shape a round basket. Remove the T-pin and cardboard.
Weave the rattan over and under every spoke for several rows. Stop when you notice that the width between the spokes has doubled.
Insert the remaining 3-foot pieces of rattan into the side of the basket to become new spokes. Place them equidistant between two existing spokes to eliminate the wider distance. Use clothespins to hold them in place.
Finish weaving the rest of the 4-foot reeds, and then remove the clothespins from the new spokes.
Weave the remaining length of each spoke, one reed at a time, into the other spokes. Work in the same direction and weave the first spoke over and under the other spokes until you reach the end of that reed. When you finish the first spoke, then start with the second spoke and weave all of them in order as you go around the top of the basket. Weaving will secure the spokes plus give a nice finished appearance to the top of your basket.