The goal of the class was to weave a basket – or at least learn the techniques to be able to do so but by the end of it, all I had was a coaster and a new appreciation for this basket weaving craft.
When I first saw the flyer for this experience by Unravelling Nigeria, I knew it wasn’t one I wanted to miss out on. If you have followed this blog long enough, you’ll have read a number of articles about the adventures I have taken with them.
From camping at Omo Forest Reserve to hiking in Oke-Ado, Idanre, and Owa-Onire, they have taken me to some really exciting places and every year, they organize a specially curated cultural trip around some of the oldest forms of crafts in Nigeria. Last year, I attended a session on palm wine tapping in Epe and the year before that, we went to Dada Pottery in Kwara State to learn the art of pottery making. Both trips were very insightful, so naturally, I was looking forward to this one.
The venue for our class was a lovely spot on the terrace at Casa Nomads – a beautiful Airbnb apartment that just opened up in the Lekki area.
On arrival, our host welcomed us with our very own (already made) baskets and then proceeded to introduce our instructor who began the workshop shortly afterward.
The first step to weaving a basket is getting the materials in the right conditions and getting the base right. Once the base is done, weaving gets easier from there.
We worked on our baskets for a while – or let me speak for myself. I worked on mine for a few hours before finally deciding that all I really wanted to make from the beginning was a tiny coaster. Meanwhile, in the time it took me to make that coaster, our instructor had gone halfway through a basket, despite several pauses to get everyone on track!
My fingers were numb by the end of the day but I was glad for the lessons I had learned and the next time I’m getting one of these bags from the Lekki Arts and Crafts Market, I’ll certainly be more lenient while bargaining!
PS: I have to say though, that in writing this article, I did a little research about weaving techniques around the world. I was surprised to see that while the techniques remained the same, the tools used in some of the videos I saw were simpler and easier to work with.
It made me wonder, at what point is it necessary to substitute traditional methods with modern ones, especially when the results are the same? Are we selling out by doing this? Or is this something we should embrace?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…