Here is a fun time-lapse of Assibe weaving a mini basket. The video is sped up dramatically so that the complete weaving process, which normally takes about 12 hours in all, is shown in less than 6 minutes! Many time-intensive steps, each requiring great skill, go into transforming fresh river grass into a finished basket.
You can see the process of twisting the straw here, and it’s incredible how efficiently and quickly the weavers can twist bundles of straw.
This video shows the process of splitting the grass, which is done in the traditional way and preps the grass fibers before weaving begins.
The weavers gather daily under trees to weave. This video gives you an idea of what the scene is like, with many generations convening, enjoying each other’s company, and weaving beautiful baskets.
Sometimes a single family will weave as a group, as shown here, where four generations share a peaceful setting outside their family house. There is Guinea Corn growing all around their compound, which will help feed the greater family for months.
The communal nature of weaving shines through here, with multiple generations together, and it’s a wonderful example of their solidarity. Nearly every time we visit the communities, they show their appreciation for all we have done by singing and dancing, which always brings out such joy in all of us.
Finishing the top edge of a beautiful round basket, which is now far along in the weaving process.
In this video, Assibe is constructing the handle, and you can see why the handles sometimes come apart, especially if leather is not added for more durability. We always reinforce our handles before adding leather, which makes our leather-handled round baskets much stronger than those of other companies
The last step before the weaver is done with her basket is to trim all the fibers that are sticking out, which she does meticulously with a straight razor blade. If you ever receive a basket with a fiber or two sticking out, please just snip them with hangnail clippers or a similar tool, and you will be part of the basket-making process!
This video shows a group of leatherworkers adding leather to baskets that were just bought in the market within the past day or two. After the leather handles are finished, a basket is ready to inspect, sack up, and head your way.
Usually, three sackers work together to fit as many baskets as possible into each sack. The baskets are inherently pliable, which is key, as they are tightly compressed when pushed into the sacks, thereby saving a lot of space during transport.
The market in Bolgatanga is the cornerstone of the local economy, so villagers travel by whatever means they have available, often for many miles, every third day. Their dedicated effort in getting there, as shown in this video, is both admirable and inspiring.
Assibe brings hers and her friends’ baskets to market and bargains with our buyer for top price based on quality. We know many of the weavers personally and the bargaining is in good spirit, though the outcome is critically important to the weavers, and we always pay top-dollar for the best-quality baskets. With every basket you buy, the roots of fair and equitable trade strengthen and deepen.
This short video shows one of the myriad of possibilities for showcasing Bolga baskets. They are displayed in a self-contained area of a gardening center, where they naturally complement outdoor floral and gardening displays.