During the hot summer of 2018, sitting in a Shropshire garden, a plan was being woven to bring vibrantly designed African baskets to the UK.
Steph Bishop was brought up in Kenya and has worked in Community Development in West Africa for 4 years. She instantly fell in love with the striking Bolga baskets when first laying eyes on them in a local market. Together with Jo Yates, who has a passion for colour and bold interiors, they founded Wovenology.
Wovenology is the one stop shop for bright and beautiful, ethically sourced, handwoven baskets with function, from Ghana with love.
About our Baskets
The town of Bolgatanga (often shortened to Bolga, hence ‘Bolga Baskets’) in the Upper East region of Ghana, is renowned for its beautiful baskets. The baskets are made by male and female artisans. Weaving is a skill that is learnt at a young age and passed from generation to generation.
The sale of baskets is a vital source of income for the region. Wovenology deals directly with the local communities, cutting out middle men, this means we pay the weavers a better price (nearly double what they earn from middle men). We also bulk buy the raw materials for the communities, so the weavers can produce the baskets without any direct outlay. Every purchase made through Wovenology generates a meaningful income for the weavers.
The baskets are made using elephant grass, (Pennisetum pupureum) an agricultural by-product and dyes are imported from Europe. Due to the elephant grass being thick the baskets are incredibly durable.
The basket making process:
Each piece of dried elephant grass is split in half vertically, then twisted tightly together to give strength and durability. The straw is dyed in large heated iron pots and left to dry for 24 hours. The weaving process can then begin. The appropriate straw is selected for the different parts of the basket (base, sides and handle), this straw selection process is paramount to well-made baskets.
The weavers start by weaving the base and work up to the rim, the rim is finished off with a durable wrapping technique. The handles are woven and often covered with leather. The remaining strands of straw being trimmed off.
The basket making process takes between two days (for a medium Bolga basket) to five days (for the Moses, large storage and dog baskets).
This specialised weaving process makes the baskets strong and flexible, they can also be easily reshaped and washed (see FAQ’s).
Wovenology constantly strives to create an environment that enables the weavers to benefit from their skill. All the weavers are paid well above market rate, the payment being made directly to them by us. Wovenology has set up a Community Fund, whereby we put aside 2% of all profits, which will be used to help the community with an infrastructure project chosen by them.