Beautiful Basketry From Maple Suckers: Minnesota Crafting
Trees Meet a Basket Maker
Every year, our maple trees get a cluster of small trees at the base known as suckers. They really don't have any practical purpose, and we usually hack them off. This year, I decided to use them in a basket project. I haven't made a basket in over 45 years, so I wasn't sure if I could actually accomplish anything constructive.
1. Gather the Branches
In our front yard, there are several trees that needed their suckers removed. Out I went with a pair of scissors and clipped as many as I could, removing the leaves and small branches. I carried them to the house and proceeded to the dining room table.
2. Get Inspired
I had a basket that I keep candy in and used it as a light pattern as to what to do. It seemed to have cross pieces and side pieces, all connected in the bottom. There were longer pieces that went up the sides and flipped over.
3. Work With the Branches
I took the longer pieces and removed the bark carefully and had a long strip. Then, I used a wooden board and a rubber mallet to smash my way across the length. It didn't take long, and I had a strip of bark that was ready to be used. The sucker was now stripped of bark. I set it aside to use later.
I didn't use the leaves. I simply pulled them off the branches and discarded them. All I used was the bark and the actual sucker two ways: with bark and without bark.
4. Drill a Hole
I drilled a hole in my board and had a metal piece holding all my twigs in place. Then, I used some finishing nails to hold my twigs in place in the shape I wanted.
5. Use the Mallet
Use the mallet to break the sucker into strips. It's hollow and should break easily.
6. Use the Bark and Strips
Use the bark and strips in and over-and-under pattern to create a basket.
To Be Continued...
I ran out of bark and twigs, so I am at a standstill for this project. It's also 93°F outside, so I suppose I won't be continuing this for a while.
Hopefully, you will be inspired to create something from your suckers.