Once again I have had the opportunity to repair old pine needle baskets. It is a pleasure to see first hand the great work by talented basket makers from an earlier generation.
Again the baskets were sewn with raffia and treated with shellac. As I said in an earlier post, shellac dries the raffia and over time it yellows and cracks. This makes the basket very brittle. In this instance the handles and outer rims had cracked. In addition, these three baskets had some mold and dust down in the coils and were discolored.
I was able to clean the baskets with a bit of white vinegar in water on a toothbrush. It is amazing how sturdy pine needle baskets are after 40 or more years!
Matching the faded and yellowed raffia was more of a challenge. I decided to replace the entire top row on the flat basket and to replace both of the cracked handles on the other two baskets. By working with entire rows at a time, the color differences in the materials became less noticeable.
Cracking was still an issue, though, as the baskets very very brittle, especially around the wonderful little teneriffes on the handles.
I was very pleased with the finished baskets, which are now sturdy and ready to display for many more years.