Friday, July 3, 2009

Fabulous Friday Feature: JohnToftBasketry!

I have been one of the team leaders for the Capital Crafters and a few months ago met John. John was particularly fascinating as he makes baskets the 'old fashioned way', from willow canes and other materials to produce such beautiful works of art that don't seem as if a mere human could have made them. He even grows his own willow for the canes! His blog,, chronicles his basket making, his inspirations, new items, and how he grows his own basket weaving materials. I really do suggest you visit. Then, pop over to his Etsy store and see the delightful items he has for sale. He even has do-it-yourself kits, but more on that later...Here is what John has to say about his wonderful business:
~Sewing basket~

I trade as JohnToftBasketry ( because I had to choose a name in a hurry when I first began my business several years ago. I needed a business name that was unique as I obtained my Ontario business licence. My imagination hit a road block. The prosaic label that combined my name with what I did was, and is, the best I could come up with.
Later, as I set up my Etsy shop, I continued with that not-so-evocative name since it was then a name becoming known in the art and craft community in and around Ottawa.
~Rib Basket~

In my basket-making I combine the traditions of English basket-making with those of North America. England is where I was born, raised and educated. Canada is my adopted home since 1966.
I specialise in three types of baskets:
My sewing baskets (Top Image) are made using traditional English techniques. These beautiful baskets combine texture, colour, style and utilty, while the liners, made by my wife, Anne, add that essential finishing touch of style.
My rib baskets (Second Image), also following traditional North American techniques, combine practicality and whimsy. The "fanny baskets" are particularly admired and enjoyed.
My market baskets (Third Image) are made using traditional North American techniques in the Appalachian style. While these are utilitarian shopping baskets, their looks and designer elements make them an attractive addition to any home.
~Market Basket~

I was introduced to basket-making as a child in elementary school in England. There, in competition and co-operation as always with my twin brother, he and I so took to this craft that the school was in danger of running out of supplies! Before my retirement from teaching in 1998, I said, "I should do more than golf and garden when I retire. I made a basket once as a child." That Christmas a book on basket-making appeared under the Christmas tree. So began my basket-making journey.
~Tray Making Kit~

My blog at has many articles on different aspects of basket-making, ranging from the dyeing process to growing and harvesting willow to showing how to make baskets.

Via my blog and the kits I sell through my etsy shop, I also invite beginners at basket-making to try their own hands at this ancient craft. The Kits enable a newbie to make a tray with basket edging, while the eight-step tutorials in my blog of June 9th illustrate the various weving techniques used.

Thank you so much for sharing with us John! Please visit his Etsy Store.

To all of my Little Studio Photography and Jewellery blog visitors, remember to enter my monthly contest by adding your name and email to my monthly newsletter (You have to sign up for the newsletter first to be eligible to win!!), see the full contest details here.


  1. Those are really gorgeous!
    I love all the color he adds as well :)

  2. John's work is fabulous! I enjoyed reading his feature!

  3. These are wonderful - and so is the interview! The baskets are all so beautifully made (and I covet one of those sewing baskets!)

  4. Fascinating, Meghann.

    I have been following Hen's blog (from Scotland) on her basket making. Like you I'm astonished by the craftsmanship that goes into basket making. And after reading John's commentary, I have a deeper appreciation for the art.



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