Abílio Pereira, Basketry

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Having worked in basketry for over 55 years, Abílio learned the craft at the age of 14. Although he pursued various professions, including textile weaving and building construction, he has been entirely dedicated to basketry since the age of 40. Currently cultivating a small plantation of Basket Willow to ensure local production, Abílio also utilizes wood from invasive tree species, as it has no other practical uses.

Name of Craft in the local language
Cestaria em vime e madeira rachada e mobiliário em bambu
Type of Craft
Wicker and wood splint basketry and bamboo furniture
Knowledge Holder
Abílio da Costa Pereira
Location, Website
Tv. do Juncal 63, 4775-270 Viatodos, Barcelos, Portugal Link to website
Contact
geral@artesanato-pereira.com, +351 919 554 629; +351 252 963 205
Type of Business
Newly founded; workshop in-house.
Year of Establishment
Around 1983
Successors
Yes, Abílio dos Anjos Carvalho Ferreira (his son)

Workshop and sales space
200m2
Materials
Local wicker and wood; bamboo is bought; synthetic varnish; cellulose varnish
Technology / Tools / Machines
Knife, carpenter’s hammer, stapler, air compressor, borer, secateurs, cleaver, bench
Techniques / Processes
Woven, plaited and braided / Boiling, tailoring, cutting, pressing, stapling, sanding, shaping by hand and finishing
Members / Employees
3
Apprentices
His son, Abílio dos Anjos Carvalho Ferreira.
Education of the Craftsperson
Learned in 4 weeks from a neighbour at age 14, in his hometown, Silveiros.

Best-selling product
Picnic basket
Average time of production
Nearly 2 hours (always made in series to optimize the process)
Average price per item
22.5 EUR – 35 EUR

Artisan’s certification from CEARTE; as a teenager worked as a resin extractor and grafter

Working in basketry for over 55 years, Abílio learned to make baskets from a neighbour, at the age of 14. Throughout his life he has had several professions, namely in the sectors of resin extraction, textile weaving and building industry.

At the age of 40 and following a kidney disease, he decided to dedicate himself exclusively to basketry. He currently cultivates a small plantation of basket willow, to ensure his production locally and avoid the international import of the raw material, and also uses wood from invasive tree species as it has no other uses. He works with his son and wife and, on school holidays, his youngest daughters and grandson also help with the family business. He makes mostly picnic baskets, furniture and lighting, combining metal frames with woven shells. All production is done in-house. 

Located in the garage of his two-story concrete house, it’s a large, 200m2 open space, divided into different rooms for different purposes through self-made concrete block walls - storage, workshop, sales/display -, and with a big door that brings in good natural light.

The storage area takes up about 100m2 since lot of room is required to store the raw material over the year, and includes self-built wood shelves to hold different materials and tools; in the working area one finds a long planing-machine, a wood cutting table with saw, and a self-made mold to make the cone-shaped wicker seats for chairs, that’s composed of a foot around waist height and holds a round table top set at a diagonal angle; the display and sales area is the only room with painted walls and ceiling, and where you can actually see the ceramic tiled floor. All the rest is just covered in raw material, waiting to be worked.

  • PT_AbilioPereira_Process15

    Although he knows how to open the basket wicker with a hand tool, he uses a machine to prepare it to speed up the process.

  • PT_AbilioPereira_Process8

Basket willow is produced much like all agriculture.

The shrubs sprout every year, and need to be cut between the beginning and the end of winter. In March, they start sprouting again and have to be looked after over Spring and Summer in order to grow well until August. Once cut, the treatment is different depending on what sort of color one’s aiming at. For a darker shade, the wicker is boiled in water for 8 to 10 hours, then peeled and stored. For the so-called “white”, stems are staked into the ground and taken out in April/May to be peeled then. It then needs to be stored in a very dry place to be used throughout the year.

All objects require interweaving and finishing – which is the hardest part of pulling the loose fibers inside.

For example, to make a firewood basket, it’s required to make a wood frame, prop the wicker, weave and finish. Abílio never makes one piece straight – he always works on 10 to 15 at the same time. Interestingly – and showing great environmental consciousness -, Abílio also makes use of wood from invasive trees species to make wood splint basketry, and produces some products in bamboo marrow that involve intertwining and weaving techniques.

The product Abilio manufactures the most is the picnic basket - in 4 different sizes - followed by firewood baskets, shopping baskets and lamps (these combine metal frames with woven shells). Wicker cones for chairs are also very much sought after. Abílio also enjoys playing with different patterns and mixing different coloured fibers.