Our brand Victoria has been producing for 10 years bicycle baskets sustainably in the heart of Indonesia, where there is a millenary tradition recognized as the best quality of wicker baskets in the world, due to the particularities of the wicker or "Rattan" that is used to make them, in addition to the experience and popular technique that has been transmitted from generation to generation.
This year, 2021, we wanted to expand our product range with a line of baskets that is very well known worldwide african handmade baskets which have also been manufactured for millennia in a traditional and sustainable way, we have focused on the famous Bolgatanga baskets, because of their main characteristics, very resistant and flexible baskets, with bright and original colors of unique beauty and the versatility they offer, they are also known as "Bolgatanga baskets" elephant grass baskets.
Bolgatanga bicycle baskets of our brand Bolgatanga Victoria are handmade in the villages surrounding Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
The baskets are woven from guinea grass, dyed to produce a colorful vibe that reflects the energy and charm of the people. The majority of the baskets are woven by women, from Victoria we put the focus on the basket weavers, making sure that the baskets are paid for a fair price to each weaver and that the entire process is properly monitored to ensure that the benefit of the work is properly passed on to the families in the area.
Bolgatanga or "Tehei" market baskets, the Bolga basket village of Ghana
These genuine Bolga baskets are woven exclusively by the indigenous Gurune (also known as Frafra) around the town of Bolgatanga in northern Ghana.
Bolga is the handicraft center of northern Ghana. For many generations, weaving has been a traditional skill of the people there. The soil around Bolgatanga is not fertile enough for extensive agricultural activities. The region has a very poor rainfall pattern and generally harsh climatic conditions. As a result, handicraft activities such as basket weaving, leather work and pottery are mainly done by women to supplement their income, as they are mainly subsistence farmers.
Veta vera thatch, known locally as kinkahethe straw is collected from the top of the stem of the grass, then each piece is split in half vertically, then each half of the split straw is twisted tightly and rolled back to give it strength, the straw is put into bundles and dyed in boiling water. For bright colors, the straw is first dyed yellow, then the color. The weaver carefully selects the right straw for the base, sides and handle. Selecting the right grass for various parts of the basket is critical to good weaving.
The weave starts at the base and goes up to the rim. The rims are usually finished flat or wrapped with straw to form a tube-shaped rim. Remaining pieces of straw protruding from the basket are carefully trimmed.
Usually a medium basket takes about 3 days. Some shapes and patterns are more difficult to weave and require more time, All of our baskets, regardless of shape, are woven as a single integral shape. There are no sewn seams to wear and fail. That's why our baskets are so strong and also why you can reshape them over and over again.
Maintenance and molding
Elephant grass baskets can be deceptive in their flexibility, but they are very strong, and while their shape may change, it is very easy to return them to their original form.
When you receive the basket, it's quite possible that it comes a little flattened from shipping. A little flat and wonky, but one of our other favorite things about these beautiful round baskets is that the new owner has the opportunity to participate in shaping them the way they like. It's a pretty smooth and tactile process.
Fill a large bucket with cold water. Hold your basket under water for about a minute, remove it from the water and begin molding to the shape you want. You may like a rounded bottom or something flatter. This is also a fun process for kids.
Once you are happy with the desired shape, place your basket in the sun. You will have the basket dry and ready to use in about 30 minutes.
If you have had your elephant grass basket in use for a while, it may start to look a little warped, this is normal. You can complete the above process to keep your basket in good shape at any time in the future. The leather handle will most likely stay well polished with regular use, but it can be cleaned and kept in good condition with a little boot polish or leather conditioner; a good natural version we've heard of is lemon essential oil rubbed with a soft cloth Try not to carry very heavy loads in your basket because it can weaken over time, but take care of it and it will look beautiful for years to come!