Handcarved Root Baskets by Rich Borden

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Root Baskets

I found a different aspect of carving while at the New England Home Show. Rich Borden’s Handcarved Root Baskets displayed a unique attraction and different idea for the use of a different part of the tree. Rich uses cypress tree stumps and roots to create these one piece beauties.

Basket carving goes back 10-12,000 years ago in Egyptian times. Indians would also carve out baskets using beaver tooth or sharp stones. Root baskets are handcarved from the stumps of harvested trees from one piece of wood, and are unique in grain and color to the type of tree and soil the tree was grown in. Tree roots absorb minerals and water from the soil which are characteristic of the different reddish, brown and amber colors found in each piece of wood. The roots used in the carving of baskets are left over from the cutting of trees in managed forests where the trees are harvested as lumber for other construction purposes. Basket carvers are given permission to dig up the roots for carving from the lumber businesses.

The handle of the basket is a constituent part of the root structure, not a separate piece that is assembled to the basket later. Porportional carving is essential to the details of the carved basket or it will distract from the asthetics of the completed artwork. After basic details are carved into the basket, creating a sketch of the desired end structure will aid in the three-dimensional exterior appearance, considering how light will reflect off of the finished surfaces.

Secure the wood piece when using hand or power carving tools to prevent injury or improper carving.  Sharp carving tools, hand or powered sharpening or grinding stones are essential in producing the best quality project.

Carve across or with the grain, never against it. Carving against the grain of wood will splinter or tear the wood instead of cutting it. If you are finding it difficult to determine the direction of the grain, try taking a light cut. If the tool is digging in instead of cutting cleanly, turn around and cut in the opposite direction. Cutting across the grain is a good method for initial shaping and quickly removing excess material. Whenever possible, the final surface and shape should be created by cutting with the grain. Do not remove all of the tool marks as they are an authentic sign of hand-carved work. When carving, refrain from using sandpaper. Sanding between stages of carving may help with the visualization of the finished piece, but the abrasive grit will lodge in the grain of the wood and will quickly dull the carving tools.

Remember, NEVER carve towards yourself!

Here is the interview from Patricia DiSantis at Rich’s Handcarved Root Basket Booth at the New England Home Show in Boston.

Root Baskets

Rich Borden displays at many shows, and is located in Wallingford, Connecticut. He may be reached at richieb.richard@gmail.com or 908-797-0285.

I could not walk away without bringing back a hand carved basket souvenir for my wife.
Thanks Patricia, she loved it!

Auf wiedersehen…Frank

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