Friday, June 21, 2013

The craft of traditional Castillian basket making: Escriño

Those of you who follow our blog will know about our affinity for handmade things and appreciation for traditional crafts. Over the years I have learnt to cane and rush chairs and make the traditional Asturian baskets. It is being a while since I have wanted to learn how to make an escriño, a traditional Castillian basket made with rye straw and willow. My grandfather knew how to make these but I never had the opportunity to learn this craft. This is one he made about 30-40 years ago that I now use in the study as a pen holder.

While spending some time with my my family, we have visited some of the traditional markets celebrated in towns nearby and have come across someone who keeps the craft of making escriños alive by doing demonstrations, selling newly made escriños, repairing old ones and more recently running courses so that those interested can learn the techniques.

I recently learnt that this gentleman had organized a three day course to teach the making of this type of basket. It took place in a town near the village where I was born so I visited and spent some time with my family whilst undertaking the course . During the course we learnt how to weave an escriño, collect rye grass, harvest willow and also had a go at splitting and processing the willow that traditionally is used to bind the straw as you weave the basket.

The materials required to make an escriño are readily available in Castille, a region in the heart of Spain where rye and willow are plentiful. The tools used are very few and easily found in most households.
I was able to obtain some already dry rye grass so that I can have a go at making another escriño now I am back at La Pasera and thus consolidate the techniques I learnt during the course.

As it is the wrong time of the year to harvest willow, I will be using the rattan cane I use to weave the Bergere chair seating instead of using willow. In time I intend to use willow and straw to make an escriño based on a pottery vase made by Lucy Rie, a ceramicist whose work we greatly admire and whose influence is also present in my current mosaic project titled "Rain Catcher".

My finished Escriño. Ian wants me to make an Escriño Beehive next, I may be some time...


  1. it's lovely :) a beehive is a great idea

    1. Yes I agree - he just needs to get on with it - it can't be that hard can it? ;-)

  2. A bee hive sounds a great idea.
    Sorry Ian, can you resend your comment about Sparky, I accidently deleted it instead of publishing it!


Click link to read more.