Wicker basket weaving has been known in the Lika area for centuries. While it used to be the main source of income for many people, today only a few are engaged in this old and almost forgotten craft.
One of them is Mladen Bušljeta from Novoselo Trnovačko near Gospić. We met this distinctive man at the traditional exhibition “Autumn in Lika”, where he delighted us with his collection of wicker baskets that he has been producing for years.
He says that he made the first basket for his girlfriend, who was a teacher from Međimurje. She once asked him to make her a small basket for students, and Mladen wanted to impress her with his skills. He managed to weave the basket only from the third attempt, the girl was delighted, but she did not want to take it with her when she left.
“Well, you forgot the basket!” I told her as we said goodbye.
She said: No, no, this is your first. She will stand in your rack, you will make another for me.
“And that’s how I made a lot of baskets for her “, says Mladen.
After discovering his talent, Mladen continued to weave baskets, but also various other items. Each of his baskets is unique, very resistant and durable, and is made of willow that is specific to this area.
“That shiba is a shiba from Lika, it’s called a wicker, it’s actually a kind of willow,” Mladen explains to us.
“When drying, you must soak it in wine and water, and it is best when you soak in wine.”, He says with a laugh.
The prices of Mladen’s handicrafts range from one hundred kunas to one hundred euros. Depending on the size and model, it takes 6 to 20 hours of intensive work or knitting to make one basket.
In addition to the items we saw at his stand, Mladen also makes baskets to order. He says that he traveled the world and returned to his Lika and Gospić, and basket weaving is his favorite hobby. Check out his wonderful products!
PHOTOS: Josip Durdov