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Basket Beads

Scott Thompson, who lives in Washington state (USA) has solved the mystery of what "basket beads" are and why they are called that.

With a little sleuthing in Wilma Mangum's collection in her wondrous store in Blackfoot, Idaho, he found a couple of kits for making baskets.

The kits were made by Froebel (at least they are called "System Froebel").

They are "pearl baskets," pearl here simply meaning bead. The kit was meant for an international audience. Its name is written in four languages: English, French, Spanish and probably a Scandinavian tongue.

The first edition of this page asked readers for help in identifying its origin.

Stefanie Kruse in Germany informed me that (Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel 1782-1852) was a German educator, especially interested in young children and he invented educational toys. Whether he or a descendant invented the bead basket is not clear, but seems likely it was he.

Meanwhile, Scott Thompson has found more basket beads in wrappers stamped "Germany". Thanks, guys. We still don't have a date, but they look to be at least several decades old.


Both kits consist of several sets of cardboard forms,
each set consisting of the bottom and the brim of a basket.
Three strings of basket beads are included.
They are fairly large drawn beads with snapped ends.
There is a quantity of thin sticks to make the sides.
One can make several baskets from each kit.


covers showing

You begin by putting the sticks into the holes of a brim, giving them a little twist.
Then you string the beads onto the sticks.
The last step is to secure the bottom piece onto the sticks.
Full instructions below:

 Photos: Scott Thompson.

Directions for use (from one of the kits). If you want to make a nice little basket, take in the first instance always the two cardboard forms--bottom and brim--which belong to each other. The bottom is somewhat smaller than the brim.

Then take the sticks of the size you desire to make the basket, put them from the top through the brim, turning these a little round and after this put the pearls on the sticks.

As soon as all sticks are filled with pearls, press the bottom on them. You can take different colours of pearls on order to give the basket a nice appearance.

Check out more bead kits here.


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