Ever wonder how a Dresden & Company Basket comes to be? The basketmakers make it all seem so easy, don’t they?
Long before the basketmakers gather their splints and put their forms on the weaving horses to work their magic, the team has discussed function, form, shape and weave patterns in a quest for a new basket design.
They’ve talked about how they can bring the basket vision to life. Sketches have been drawn. Math has been done. Forms have been built and rebuilt, if necessary.
The Seaside Stripe Toting Baskets in June are a new design. The baskets slope gently up at the ends with an open weave bottom and upsplints that fan out like an open shell. The handle is short and squatty, adding to the new look.
“We want to make new compelling shapes,” said Andy Wolfe, D&Co.’s Director of Product Development and Manufacturing. “It is always fun to make new.”
They start with a focus on the function. “Form follows function,” Andy said. From the initial concept to the prototype can take a week.
“Once we understand how the basket will be used, then we work on the shape to support that function,” Andy said.
When they have a shape they like, attention turns to the weave pattern. “I will drive this process with thoughts and ideas, and then we work through the ‘How can we make this?’ ”
Adjustments prompted by business partners can take another week to work through.
It’s a team effort to create the basket design that will eventually be woven by D&Co.’s experienced basketmakers.
Ann Freniere works on how to make the basket. Andrew Silvia creates the weaving form and Pam Wheeler focuses on the stain colors. Depending on the size and shape, Andy will consult with specific basketmakers.
“Some basketmakers are masters at small baskets so we talk about how small we can go and what are the tricks to making a small basket and how can we incorporate those techniques.”
Andy says the team tries to balance new shapes with questions about whether the basket can be made or how it can be made. “I try to not get too far into the development process with something we don’t think can be made.”
He does ask “what if” questions geared toward thinking about new ways of accomplishing the goal.
“There is a sense of accomplishment when we figure it out and create something new,” he said.
Rarely do they reach a “no” moment. Andy says the June basket was an “aha” moment from the start.
Andy likes to point out that the basketmakers grumble about some of the pushing of the envelope he makes them do.
“They will tease me, but, really, they want this to work, and they understand that we cannot continue to do what was done for years. We need to push and create new to keep the business driving forward.”
With all that creating behind the scenes done, basketmakers can work their magic. With the Medium Toting Basket, that means about 45 minutes of work from gathering their supplies to weaving the basket.
And while this month’s baskets are being made, Andy and his team are also looking far down the road for the latest new design.