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Plaited Coil Start

by Pamela Zimmerman

The Tohono O'odham (Papago) Indians use a plaited start for most of their baskets. After searching for some time to find instructions for the plaited start, Debbie Norton of Feather River Baskets put instructions online for 2 plaited starts. Debbie's start are easy to do, and quite attractive. But they are different from the Tohono O'odham start in that it is not the same on both sides (#1) and use folded leaves (#2).

I developed the start depicted on this page to approximate the Tohono O'odham start - but it is still not the same. The Tohono O'odham start the basket with the binder, and this start is shown using the core.

You will want to use something flexible for this start, it is demonstrated with dried iris leaves, which have been spritzed with water & mellowed in a towel for several hours. I have never been successful using pine needles for this start, they always crack.

fold two pieces together & join

Fold two pieces, one inside the other, to make a right angle. You might want to make the fold offset (not in the center) so the free ends are not the same length. We will call the piece with the folded end at the top of the picture "top", and the one with the folded end on the left "left".

fold third piece & interlock
Fold a third piece , and insert it from left to right through top, so it becomes the right folded piece.

feed free end of fourth piece through
Feed one free end of a fourth piece through the fold formed on the right, passing it underneath both free ends of the left fold.

fold & feed through loose, but closed, 
square is formed
Fold the fourth piece, to make it the bottom, and feed the end you are folding with back through the right fold.

go to page 2 plaited start

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