So, I was hoping that on this occasion I might be able to visit a Portuguese maker and Inez remembered having come across one not far from their home.
It was a slightly chaotic workshop, the floor strewn with materials and finished baskets. It made it difficult to look at the work but those that I could see included covered wine jars, market baskets, some with dyed willow included, log baskets and fans for the fire. He gave the impression of being someone who enjoys making baskets much more than selling them! I'm with him on that one.
Similar baskets were on sale at the weekly market in Cabeceiras, as well as some that looked like Chinese imports. The latter having thinly split wood, handles wrapped in string, plywood bases and fabric linings. A lining always suggests Chinese origins, they use them a lot in their commercial basketry manufacture so that they don’t have to spend time trimming the ends on the inside of the basket. If you look under the lining of one you will see what I mean! These did not seem like Portuguese baskets to me, but since then Inez has sent me some pictures of other baskets seen at a market, where the maker was actually working, that also have plywood bases and linings, so perhaps this is a Portuguese practise too? Maybe someone out there knows the truth? Some of the baskets with structures out of split chestnut were woven with what looked like bamboo rather than Mediterranean cane, which also surprised me, as hazel was more evident in the landscape than either cane or bamboo and again this suggested that the basket came from somewhere else. My Portuguese is less than minimal so interrogating the stall holder was not possible.