9 Tips for Home Basketry Care

3) Handle baskets carefully

When handling your baskets, it’s important to remember that repeated wear and tear in a specific place can fray or damage the weave pattern. Always use two hands to pick up your basket and place your hands on the walls near the base because these are much stronger and more resistant to fraying. Even if your basket has a handle, hold the basket by the walls because handles will break after repeated use. Some older baskets may have been  treated with arsenic or other chemicals, so consider wearing gloves while handling them. Some baskets will hold their shape well over the years while others start to sag and would benefit greatly by being gently supported from the interior with acid-free tissue paper.

4) Keep pests away

There are many different pests such as dermestid beetles, clothing moths, and carpet beetles that will eat organic material baskets are made from (plant material, feathers, wool, quills, baleen, etc.), so be sure to check your baskets for damage every six months. To ensure baskets are pest-free, you can put the baskets in a ziploc bag, push all the air out and freeze it for about two weeks. Repeat this freezing and thawing process at least twice, keeping the bagged up the entire time. If you do that every six months, then you’re going to kill any of the bugs that might be eating away at the basketry. It’s important to clean any old insect debris off the basket so you can recognize new insect activity..

5) Don’t get your basket wet

Wet baskets are a playground for mold spores in the air and the Pacific Northwest has a lot of mold ready to find a place to land. Many colored baskets use water soluble dyes that can be washed away or faded by water. If your basket does get wet, be sure to let it dry in an environment that won’t dry out the fibers too much, such as a shaded area of your home or a room with humidity control.

Article Source: Burke Museum