Fair Craft > Artisans > Wickerwork > Elena und Mitica

Elena und Mitica

Mitica next to the harvested willow branches

In the village of Fofeldea there are still several Romani families who have mastered the traditional handicraft of basket weaving. Fofeldea is located between Sibiu and Sighisoara, five kilometers off the main road. In the past, these baskets were used in agriculture and in the yard. The basket weavers made these baskets in the cold season and sold them in the various villages. Unfortunately, people in the region now prefer to buy plastic containers – most notably because they are cheaper.

The traditional basket models of the weavers from Fofeldea are the “corfa” and the cylindrical “cos”. The “corfa” has the shape of a hemisphere and two handles. The frame is made of hazel, which is then braided with split hazel and willow. This basket is extremely stable and durable. The advantage of the “cos” is that it has a straight bottom thanks to its cylindrical shape and can therefore be used wonderfully as a laundry basket or waste paper basket. The “cos” is made entirely of willow.

The Romani people from Fofeldea get the raw material for braiding from the forest and the river bank of the Olt.

Elena presenting a Corfa

They know exactly where the best and most beautiful osier grows. When it comes to the hazel, particular attention must be paid to its straight growth, otherwise the sticks cannot be spliced.

Five craftsmen from Fofeldea are currently producing baskets for us: Alexandru Linguaru, Stella and Nicolaie Subtirel, Stella’s mother Elena and her son-in-law Mitica.

Despite her old age, Elena makes wonderful “Corfe”. She learned the craft from her parents and earned money with it in various life situations. Even today the money she gets for her baskets comes in handy because she can use it to buy her medication.

Her son-in-law Mitica lives with Elena in a house and he fetches the willows and hazel trees with the “caruta” (horse-drawn cart). Mitica braids especially in the cold season. From spring to autumn he is a shepherd with a flock of sheep. He mainly makes “cosuri” (plural “cos”) out of willow and last winter he has woven lampshades for the first time. He has woven wicker umbrellas on various wire frames. Since Mitica has no work in winter, the craft of braiding enables an important additional income.