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Description

Baskets were created for agricultural, industrial or domestic needs and were a popular method for packing and transporting products such as fish, products, manure, coal and stone. In addition items such as bird traps, eel and lobster pots. The withies were used to create coffins, cribs and coracles. Some were woven and covered with clay to create waterproof bowls. The style and form of the baskets would depend on their purpose and available raw material growing in the local area.

Basket making was part of the smallholder's many skills; he would supply his own daily needs, as well as meeting the needs of the area's inhabitants. Baskets were made using a variety of techniques, including looping, tying, plaiting, coiling and weaving.

Owen Williams: In the 1901 census Owen Williams was living at 6 Arvonia Terrace, Criccieth and was classified as a "Basket Maker" and partially blind. By 1911, he is noted as completely blind. He is recorded as the winner of basket making competition at the National Eisteddfod in Bangor in 1915. “Eisteddfod Success – Mr Owen Williams of Criccieth won the prize for a small dog basket at the National Eisteddfod” (Farmer’s Gazette 13/08/1915).

(1) Straw Basket
Straw baskets were made from wheat straw bound together by strips of bramble. They were used for numerous purposes; beehives, to hold seeds, corn, clothes and chair seats.

(2) Oak Basket
A basket made from strips of wood. The oak was boiled for hours to soften before cutting into strips with a knife, ready to weave the basket. Such baskets had different patterns and names in different areas.

(3) Cyntel / Cantell Basket
A circular basket with no handles, woven with hazel or willow withies to hold potatoes, turf, clothing etc. The edges of this basket would be made with hazel which would be steamed and shaped into the oval form of the frame. Cantell is a word which translates as 'rim or circle'.

(4) Reed, Maram grass or Rush Baskets
Maram grasses, or reeds were used to create these baskets. This material was also used for brushes, nets, ropes, horse collars, grain sacks, mats and for padding saddles. These were common in coastal areas.

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