How to Make Straw Bolga Baskets

Bolga Baskets are traditionally made from “veta veta” or elephant grass which grows in swamps and along rivers across Ghana, and is favoured by elephants, hence the name. The basket making process requires patience, time and skill, as well as years of training before the artisans achieve the skills needed to make a high quality basket. Most weavers learn the basics beside their mothers as children, and are allowed to practice on discarded straw as they grow up, making mistakes and playing with their creations. By the time they’re adult, they’ve mastered the basics.

Here’s how the weaver prepares the grass for weaving:

  1. Bites through each stalk of straw to split it vertically in half.
  2. Rolls the two split lengths against her leg until it is twisted tightly and forms a strong strand
  3. If dying it difference colours, they dye it at this point. They are often dyed first in yellow to bring out the next colour in the straw
  4. The weavers select the best pieces of straw for the part of the basket that it best suits: handles, body, edge, base.
  5. The weavers begin weaving at the base, and work upwards.
  6. Each traditional straw basket contains around 200 pieces of straw in the body, and another 100 in the skeleton and the handles.

Gayle Pescud
Gayle Pescud