Basketry used to be essential to commerce, it was needed for gathering, transportation and sale of goods, people even needed baskets to take goods home – but all these activities can now be done , and often more efficiently by other containers and materials. I personally however, find the baskets a much more human scale and infinitely more beautiful.
Historically basketry was a country craft, along with other crafts like blacksmithing and bodging, there was a crafts person who would make baskets for the local purposes they were needed for. Possibly like the making of clothes or knitting, someone in the family may make baskets for the family’s uses.
Making baskets used to be learned over time, learning about the materials, the seasonality and how to use them. Nowadays, whilst baskets are still all made by hand, many are imported from poorer countries where they are made in vast quantities, often of cheap materials that don’t necessarily have the depth and quality of real UK grown willow, they are functional but just don’t have ‘soul’.
Whilst I say this about the importing of some of the cheap baskets, there is also a wealth of study into the Geography and History of basketry that can be found wherever you travel in the world, seeing the different materials that are available in different regions for the great variety of uses in the local areas.