DIYdiy projects

Lena Corwin’s Made by Hand + DIY Coiled Bowls Project

by Grace Bonney

One of my first memories of running Design*Sponge is getting to know talented local artists like Rena Tom and Lena Corwin. They were one of my first podcast interviews and Lena was the first artist who really made me curious about, and excited to research, the history of textile and pattern design.

Early in 2009, Lena turned the top floor of her Brooklyn home into a studio and started hosting classes, some of which she taught herself (I took a block printing class and loved it!) and some were taught by her incredible group of artist friends like Jenny Gordy and Cal Patch. Inspired by that fantastic series of classes, Lena has written a fantastic new book called Made by Hand: A Collection of Projects to Print, Sew, Weave, Dye, Knit, or Otherwise Create. From stamping and embroidery to braided rugs and clothing, Lena has assembled 26 lessons and projects (all with step-by-step photos and illustrations) that will walk you through some of the skills crafters have learned in her beautiful home over the years.

In addition to being thrilled for Lena, I’m also thrilled that she was kind enough to share a project with us here at the site today: Erin Considine’s Coiled Bowl DIY. This project is a personal favorite of mine and the colors are easy to customize for fall. The full how-to continues after the jump, but you can also check out her book online and order a copy right here. Congrats, Lena! xo, grace

*Excerpted by Lena Corwin’s Made by Hand. Copyright © Lena Corwin’s Made By Hand by Lena Corwin, published by STC Craft | Melanie Falick Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, 2013*


Erin’s first fiber arts course in college led her to the ancient basketry technique of coiling, in which fibers are wound around each other in concentric rings. The textbook Erin learned from explained the process using jute, but she also experimented with rope, yarn, and wire, creating sculptural pieces in a variety of textures. For this project, Erin wrapped nylon clothesline cord with environmentally friendly hemp twine, which is available in natural tones as well as a rainbow of dyed colors. Hemp twine is tightly woven and extremely strong, and when used for coiling it results in compact, tidy bowls. The hemp is rough, so be aware that your fingers might get a little raw while wrapping. Using nylon cord as a core makes it easier to slide the hemp along the rope, plus it makes the repetitive coiling motions smoother. You may also want to adjust your hand movements slightly as you work to keep the twine from continuously rubbing the same area. If you wish to experiment with softer materials, try wrapping the coils with yarn, which will yield less rigid, fuzzier bowls. When picking your clothesline, remember that a thicker cord will make a thicker coil, and it will also build volume faster than a thinner cord. (Most hardware stores sell nylon clothesline cord by the foot in case you want to experiment with a few different gauges.) These bowls take patience and time, but the beautiful, heirloom-quality results are well worth the effort.


-Nylon clothesline cord, approximately 25′ (8 m)
-Hemp twine, one or several colors (approximately 50′ / 15 m needed for a 5″/12.5-cm-wide bowl)
-Tapestry needle Scissors Masking tape
-Bottle, bowl, or pot to use as a form (optional)


1. MAKE BASE OF BOWL: Snip one end of the cord with scissors to create a tapered end (A). Cut a piece of twine 6′ (1.8 m) long. Fold the twine in half and thread the ends through the tapestry needle. Don’t knot the ends of the twine; simply pull the ends approximately 6″ (15 cm) past the eye of the needle to create a long tail.

Hold the looped end of the twine flat against the cord, about 1″ (2.5 cm) from the end of the cord, and wrap the doubled twine on the needle around the cord and through the loop, pulling tightly. Continue wrapping in the direction of the cut end of the cord (B).

Pinch the end of the cord into a bent loop and hold it in place (C). Wrap the twine around both pieces of cord in the loop until the loop is covered (D). This will be the bottom-center of the bowl. Continue wrapping the twine around the cord for approximately 1″ (2.5 cm), then coil the cord around the center of the bowl (E). Wrap a loop around the outermost cord and then around the center of the coil, creating a figure-eight stitch that locks the 2 coils together (F).

Wrap the twine 3 times around the outer cord and then wrap a figure eight to anchor the twine to the inner cord next to it. This is the pattern you will continue for the rest of the bowl: 3 winds of twine to cover the cord, a figure eight to anchor it, 3 winds of twine, a figure eight to anchor it, and so on.

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2. ADD TWINE: When you want to add more twine or change to a new color, stop with about 2″ (5 cm) of the original twine remaining. Remove the needle, and thread another doubled 6′ (1.8 m) length of twine onto the needle. Bring the threaded needle up between the coils, 2 coils away from where you will begin your next wrap (G). Pull the needle through the loop to secure the new piece of twine to the coil (H). Continue wrapping the twine around the coils as you did in Step 1, in figure-eight fashion, making sure to wrap the tail of the old twine under the new twine (I + J).

3. MAKE SIDES AND FINISH: Once the base of your bowl is the desired diameter, start creating the walls by positioning the new section of nylon cord slightly above the previous coil (K). You can do this “free form,” manipulating the curve of the bowl as you go, or place a bottle, bowl, or pot on top of the coils and use the shape as a guide.

When the bowl is the desired size, snip the end of the cord with scissors to taper it (L). Securely attach the last row to the previous row with figure eights, and then wrap the twine around the end of the cord and the previous row as if they were a single row. Thread the twine back through the figure eights, knot the end, and trim the excess twine.

LENA CORWIN’S MADE BY HAND: A Collection of Projects to Print, Sew, Weave, Dye, Knit, or Otherwise Create is available online and at bookstores everywhere.

More previews from Lena’s new book below!


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  • Beautiful work and very time consuming. Bought some rattan(?) grass bowls in Harbour island and they are the most beautiful basket pieces ever. It’s def an art and takes the patience of a saint and artist soul to complete large ones
    Thank you for sharing

  • Thank you for such a nice post, Grace! I have good memories of the early blog days too– doing that interview with Rena. And do you remember a dinner at Dumont? I think Joy Cho and Maria Vettese were there. Wow that was ages ago! Thanks for all these years of supporting my work!

  • I can’t wait to try these. Does anyone know a shop in NYC that might carry the materials? Thanks!

  • These would make gorgeous Christmas presents, made in friends favourite colours would be extra special. Thank you for this fabulous tutorial, makes me really want to get busy making!