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How to Reshape Bolga Baskets

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How to Reshape Bolga Baskets

Wanna know how to reshape Bolga baskets? Let me start by explaining why these  African baskets lose their shape. 

When your Rufina Designs African basket arrives, you likely will be surprised to find it looks more like a flat disk than the structured, curved shape you expected. To keep shipping costs down, I often receive shipments where the baskets have been smashed down and packed tightly to save for transit. 

This squishing is no cause for alarm - it's just the nature of these all-natural woven baskets. 

The same thing can happen if you store your basket tucked away for a while and bring it back out looking lopsided or shapeless. Over time, the elephant grass fibers can lose their integrity. 

But with a little moisture, you can coax them back into place.

Watch my video tutorial on how to reshape a Bolga basket

If you’re a visual learner, I’ve also created a video demonstrating how I reshape my Bolga baskets, which you can find below. 

Watching the process might make it even easier for you to follow along.

More details on reshaping Bolga baskets

Made from elephant grass in Bolgatanga, Ghana, Bolga baskets are both sturdy and flexible. However, due to their pliable nature, they can sometimes arrive a bit misshapen, especially after a long journey.

The good news is, that reshaping a Bolga basket to restore its pretty, practical form is super easy when you know the trick. You'll want to learn how to do this, because even if your basket arrives perfectly shaped, it may get flattened over time from storage or just general wear and wear. 

I'm going to share my simple method for quickly reshaping any sad, squished Bolga basket. It's easy and doesn't require any fancy tools - just water, and your hands 

I've used this technique on hundreds of baskets, and it never fails to bring them back to life. 

 Prepare the water  

Fill your basin or sink with water or have a spray bottle ready. You can do this in your bathroom, at the kitchen sink, or outside by a tap.

The water should be comfortably warm but not hot, as extremely hot water can damage the fibers or cause the dye in the basket to bleed out.

 Wet the basket 

Mist the inside and outside of the basket with water from a spray bottle or basin until it's dampened throughout. Let it soak for about 10-15 minutes. 

The goal is to make the fibers pliable so that they can be easily reshaped. Go slowly and don't soak it for long, as you don't want the dye to bleed.

 Start reshaping 

After wetting the basket, remove the basket from the water, and let it sit for about a minute. Since the fibers are wet, they mold very easily. 

Once the fibers are softened, you can start working on reshaping the basket. 

Massage the basket with your hands, working out any kinks or dents. You also want to reshape the base to make it flat and even, and push and pull on the sides, bottom, and any crooked parts. I also like to press out any dents in the sides, smooth out the sides, and make sure the basket's mouth is an even circle again. 

Take your time getting the shaping just right. I like to continuously turn the basket as I work, supporting the restructured form with one hand while using the other to smooth out any wrinkling in the fibers. Get in every nook and cranny. 

Be careful not to pull or stretch the basket too much—you don’t want to hurt your hand. Just keep massaging and applying pressure until the basket starts taking a more uniform shape.

Note: This step can be a little messy especially if you are working with a large-sized basket, so make sure you’re wearing clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. 

 Dry the basket 

When you're happy with the new form, place the reshaped basket in a warm, dry spot and allow it to fully air dry - I usually give it 24 hours to ensure it sets nicely.

As the moisture evaporates, the fibers will become stiff again while maintaining their newly reformed curves and sculptural pleats. 

Sometimes I stuff the damp basket with plastic bags or newspaper while it dries to help it keep its newly shaped curves as it sets.

Avoid direct sunlight or high heat, as these can cause the fibers to become brittle. I usually place my baskets in a well-ventilated area and check on them periodically to ensure they’re drying evenly.

With this simple water-remolding technique, that flat basket quickly bounces back to being sturdy, shapely, and ready to be admired or put to use.

And that's it! 

Your once flat and lifeless Bolga basket will be transformed back into a sturdy, structured beauty ready to be stuffed with plants, blankets, toys, or whatever you desire. 

Additional Tips from a Bolga Basket Seller

A Ghanian woman weaving a basket with elephant grass
Rufina carrying a beautiful Bolga basket 

I can tell you for free that Ghana baskets are durable and long-lasting. In fact, my woven laundry basket has been going strong for over 6 years now, despite heavy use! Of course, this is only possible because of proper maintenance. 

If you're wondering, yes, they require proper care to maintain their beauty and shape. I recommend you do the following:

  • Regular maintenance: If you use your Bolga basket frequently, you might need to reshape it from time to time. Regular maintenance will keep it looking its best.

  •  Proper storage: To avoid having to reshape your basket often, store it properly. Avoid stacking them tightly, and if you must, place the heaviest baskets at the bottom.

  •  Handle with care: When moving or transporting your baskets, handle them gently to maintain their shape.

All our baskets from Africa can be easily reshaped

Our baskets reshaped and neatly stacked

These sustainable Bolga baskets are made to last and intended to be practical workhorses as well as beautiful décor pieces. By learning this easy reshaping trick, you can ensure your gorgeous Bolga basket looks its best for years to come. 

This quick re-shaping method is one I use constantly on baskets fresh off the shipping truck or pieces that are just showing their age. A few spritzes of water is all it takes to coax them back into their original Works-of-art form.

When I sell a Bolga basket, I always share these reshaping tips with my customers. This helps them keep their baskets in top condition. 

So don't be dismayed if your basket looks a little rumpled when it arrives - that's just par for the course with these handmade African lovelies. 

If you want original and eco-friendly Ghana baskets from Africa, check out our Instagram and store at Rufina Designs, where we offer different kinds of African baskets for shopping, beach trips, picnics, and more. 

Our Bestselling Ghana Bolga Baskets