May Your Life Be Like A Basket...Useful...Bountiful...Beautiful...

Basketmaster's Weavings is about my passions, much of which revolves around basket weaving. I weave with reed and I love teaching others to weave. Many of the patterns and styles that I show in the blog are geared to the beginning weaver, or even the brand new weaver. If you have been thinking about wanting to learn to weave, then this blog is for you. Throughout the blog and videos I take you step by step through each and every process of weaving. I want you to be successful in weaving the very first time you try. For the intermediate and advanced weaver, my wish is that you take ideas that I show, mix them up a bit, and incorporate them into your own beautiful creations.

Happy Weaving and Baskets of Blessings to all my visitors,


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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Staining Baskets - A Reader Question and we need YOUR advice

I have a question from a reader who knows I just use Minwax straight to stain my baskets. You can read how I stain HERE. She says her instructor advises adding linseed oil and mineral spirits to the Minwax helps the baskets from becoming brittle.
What do all of you think? Is it necessary to add mineral spirits and linseed oil to the Minwax?
Here is my own observation of my baskets using straight Minwax....
Some of my baskets are 15 years old and some I use daily such as my stair step basket and my bag basket. These two are baskets that truly get used and moved around, things thrown in them etc. Yes, I do notice that my baskets have become dryer over the years. Remember over the last 15 years I've lived a number of years in the low desert of Phoenix and now the high desert of Albuquerque where we often have 0% humidity. These baskets have not broken structurally. What has happened is on baskets with curly-q's and woven bows, those embellishments have snapped and broken with use and have had to be replaced. As I think now, there was one basket that did become quite damaged with use over time and that was my kitchen utensil basket. I'd drop and stuff wooden spoons and spatulas into the basket the utensil handles eventually poked holes in the basket. I used that basket several times a day for probably 10 years. You can see the photo of it below and that it is already starting to get damaged around the base.

That basket was always stuffed full and did get abused by me. Would linseed oil and mineral spirits have helped the life of this basket? Hmm....I'm not so sure it would have in this case. I've since replaced it with another basket I've woven. What about the heirloom baskets that you weave and want to just show and pass down for generations? Should those use a special staining treatment?

Thank you in advance readers for your comments and suggestions here. If you use a special treatment, would you please be as specific as possible with your staining recipe.
Have a happy weaving day,


Juliana said...

Nancy, I honestly don't know what to tell you. I used to use minwax but hated the smell and expense so went to walnut hull dye. The baskets I have that were stained with minwax are still fine, but haven't been used heavily. AND I just fixed a basket for someone, where the curlique's were cracking and fraying, and the hardwood handle had come unglued, and it was only dyed with walnut stain. SO....I think just time and conditions are the real culprits. Sometimes I spritz my baskets with lemon oil, but I don't know that it helps in the long run as I've only been doing that a few years.
My opinion is, since baskets are made with natural plant materials, they are inherently biodegradable....but, I think that's a good thing. While they do last a LONG time if properly cared for, they won't contribute to landfills like metals and plastic.

John Toft Basketry said...

One of the baskets I made for Anne did not have any fisnish applied at all. It is a sewing basket. While the colours have faded, It is still in good shape.

On the other hand I always commiserate with other people at craft shows about the disadvantages of having a product that lasts so long. People who sell soaps get repeat customers so regularly, while baskets last and ;ast and last.

J. Anthony Stubblefield said...


I posted on using Minwax stains and other oils awhile back.

A quick answer to your question though is that linseed oil, isn't really an "oil" in the way we commonly use the term. It isn't like Oil of Olay for your basket. Boiled inseed, tung, Danish oils are all drying oils that are used as wood finishes. For lack of a better term they are like a varnish, so actually harden the basket fibers instead of softening them.

Also there is a big difference between regular "linseed oil" and "boiled linseed oil". If you were to use regular linseed oil on a basket it would be a sticky mess and never dry. Thinning it with mineral spirits might help, but I don't know. Boiled linseed oil on the other hand if applied in thin coats will dry and thinning it with mineral spirits definitely helps in getting in on thin enough.

Diluting Minwax stain with mineral spirits is a good idea if you want to get a variety of colors. Personally I always thin mine as I think straight out of the can a reed basket will soak up too much and become too dark (depending on the color of Minwax used).

Well, this wasn't that short after all. Take a look at my blog post for even more information.


Ann said...

Nancy, I use a ratio of 1 part stain, 1 part odorless paint thinner(mineral spirits) and 1/2 part boiled linseed oil. I'm not sure that any of these are going to extend the life of basket reed - you can't compare it to a wood basket (black ash, oak or maple. Reed becomes brittle over time and baskets break. Tony had a great post, that I see he gave you the link to, with good advice about care for a basket. ~ann

basketsbyrose said...

I have used Minwax straight from the can and also mixed it with paint thinner for a light color stain. I have found that about every two years wash your basket and let them enjoy a good drink of water. Let them dry well before using. They need water!

Lynn Majidimehr said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, yours has so much information, such as this topic, including all the additional information contained in the comments!

Nita said...

Nancy, my personal experience with staining is pretty much zip. I did stain the first one I ever made because the instructor had the stain for everyone. I've never stained another.
I liked it without the stain and it doesn't seemed to matter. I wash my baskets once a year and let them dry outside in the shade.
If I tried anything on them I would use mineral oil. I use this on my wooden spoons etc. to keep them from drying and cracking. It will darken them.

Grab a cup of coffee and take time to enjoy some posts from the past