Your cart
Close Alternative Icon

How to Reshape African Baskets: A Rufina Designs Guide 

Arrow Thin Left Icon Arrow Thin Right Icon
How to Reshape African Baskets: A Rufina Designs Guide 

I’m thrilled to share some expert tips on how to reshape African baskets that may have lost their shape over time.

Whether they’ve been flattened from storage, shipping mishaps, or just showing signs of old age, woven baskets can lose their structural integrity over time. Fear not!

With a little TLC and some know-how, we’ll have them looking fresh and fabulous in no time.

Here’s how to wet and reshape African Woven Baskets

  • Assess the damage: Take a good look at your basket and identify any areas that need reshaping. Is it flattened on one side? Are the weaving patterns uneven? Understanding the problem areas will help you target your efforts.
  • Gently wet the basket: Start by lightly spraying or dampening the entire surface of the basket with water. You don’t want to soak it completely, just enough to make the fibers pliable and flexible.
  • Use cool water: Stick to using cool water, not warm or hot, to prevent the colors of your basket from bleeding.
  • Gently mold the basket: Pay special attention to any areas of the basket that have become particularly flattened or misshapen. Use your fingers to gently mold the basket back into its original form, recreating its shape and structure.
  • Use a soft cloth or towel: For more stubborn areas, you can wrap the basket in a soft cloth or towel that has been dampened with water. This will help to add moisture and encourage the fibers to relax and reshape.
  • Avoid over-dampening: Caution against over-dampening, as this may result in the colors bleeding. We want to revive, not ruin!
  • Apply weights (optional): For particularly stubborn baskets that just won’t cooperate, you can try placing weights or heavy objects inside them to help hold their shape as they dry. Just be sure to use something clean and non-absorbent to avoid any unwanted marks.
  • Trim stray straws: If you notice any extra straws sticking out, trim them with scissors. It’s common with handwoven baskets.
  • Handle with care: Take care when reshaping the basket, as basket splinters can be unpleasant. Gardening gloves can be helpful for protection.
  • Let it dry naturally: Once you’re satisfied with the shape of your basket, set it aside to dry naturally. Avoid using heat or direct sunlight, as this can cause the fibers to warp or become brittle. Instead, find a cool, dry spot where your basket can air dry at its own pace.
  • Check and adjust as needed: After the basket has dried completely, give it a once-over to make sure it has retained its shape. If you notice any areas that still need a little bit of reshaping, simply repeat the process until you’re happy with the results.

Note: Don’t panic if your basket arrives a little out of shape or bent. A quick reshaping with water and gentle molding will have it looking as good as new. And remember, you can easily clean stains with water and a cloth, so your basket stays fresh and beautiful.

How to reshape different types of African baskets

Alright, let’s dive into the specifics of how you can transform various African baskets, including those from Bolga and Rwanda.

How to reshape Bolga Ghanaian baskets

Bolga baskets are handmade from natural grass in Ghana and may feature leather handles. If they arrive flattened due to shipping, you can follow these steps to reshape them:

  • Wet the basket: Use cold water to dampen the basket, avoiding leather elements.
  • Mold to shape: Press and smooth the basket to the desired shape.
  • Shake Out excess water: Hold the basket by the handle and shake out excess water.
  • Dry with care: Place the basket in a warm, well-ventilated area to dry naturally.
  • This process can be repeated as needed.

How to reshape Kenyan baskets

Sisal baskets from Kenya are durable and made from tough sisal plants. Here’s how to reshape them:

  • Wet the basket: Spray or saturate the basket with cold water.
  • Mold and shape: Press and mold the basket to the desired shape.
  • Dry gently: Place the basket in a warm, airy spot to dry, avoiding surfaces where dye transfer could occur.

How to care for and reshape Senegal baskets

Senegalese African Baskets picture on

Swahili African Modern, a handicraft supplier noted that Senegalese baskets are woven from thick coils of cattail grass and should not need reshaping. However, for cleaning:

  • Wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Reshape by applying gentle pressure to desired areas.
  • Avoid wetting or saturating Senegalese baskets to prevent molding.

How to reshape Rwandan baskets

How to Reshape African Baskets: a Rufina Designs Rwandan Planter Basket

Rwandan baskets are renowned for their intricate patterns and vibrant colors. To reshape a Rwandan basket, dampen it with cool water and gently mold it back into shape. These baskets can withstand a bit of handling, but it’s still essential to treat them with care to maintain their quality.

Take your time and pay attention to detail to ensure the basket retains its original beauty.

How to take care of your African woven basket

How to Reshape African Baskets: Rufina Designs African Baskets

Once you’ve reshaped your African basket, it’s essential to take proper care of it to ensure it stays looking its best for years to come. Here are a few tips:

  • Regular cleaning: Dust your basket regularly with a soft brush or cloth to keep it looking fresh.
  • Avoid moisture: Keep your basket away from areas of high humidity to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Storage: Store your basket in a cool, dry place when not in use to prevent it from becoming misshapen or damaged.
  • Gentle handling: Handle your basket with care to avoid any unnecessary wear and tear. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of it or using it for tasks beyond its intended purpose.

Related: Rufina recommends: African Laundry Basket  


Why woven baskets lose their shape

When baskets are shipped to you, they’re packed flat to save space and cost. This may cause them to arrive flattened, but reshaping them is simple and quick. Whether flattened from shipping or regular use, restoring their original beauty is a breeze.

There’s a simple solution to this common problem: wetting and reshaping.

How do you reshape a bent basket?

To reshape a bent basket, lightly dampen it with water and gently mold it back into its original shape with your hands. Allow it to air dry naturally.

How do you fix a deformed basket?

To fix a deformed basket, assess the problem areas, dampen the basket with water, and reshape it by gently pressing and molding it back to its desired shape. Let it air dry afterward.

How to reshape African baskets

Reshaping an African basket involves lightly wetting it with water, gently molding it with your hands to restore its original shape, and allowing it to air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Our African Baskets: Cleaned & Reshaped, Ready to Use Again!

At Rufina Designs, we take pride in offering high-quality, artisan-made African baskets that are built to last. Each basket is carefully crafted using traditional techniques and materials, resulting in unique and beautiful pieces that add a touch of elegance to any space.

Whether you’re dealing with a Bolga Ghanaian basket, a Kenyan masterpiece, a Senegal classic, or a Rwandan treasure, the process remains the same: dampen, mold, dry, and enjoy! 

With proper care and maintenance, our baskets can be cleaned and reshaped time and time again, ensuring they remain a cherished part of your home decor for years to come.

So go ahead, give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

Hi, I’m Rufina,

Back in 2018, I turned my love for crafting African accessories into Rufina Designs, right from my bedroom. It’s been an exciting ride ever since as I’ve delved into the vibrant world of African accessories. For me, it’s more than just a business venture – it’s a celebration of my Ghanaian heritage and a way to support our talented local artisans across Africa.

Read more