In the early 1980’s I made many baskets and I dyed them blue, gray and red. I sold them all over New England.
Fast forward to 2016, while shopping at Goodwill in Glastonbury Ct. and I stumbled across a familiar basket. Yes indeed it was a faded but dyed red and it was 50 percent off the $2 sticker price.
A real find… handwoven 20 years earlier, sold for about $20 retail and repurchased for $1, painted my signature primitive mustard and resold for $17 wholesale. Timeless and Sturdy!
I loved school! I love to learn. I learn from the things I see and hear and do. A trip to a thrift or antique shop offers many things to learn from. My favorites are of course baskets, large and small, beginner or expertly made, there is something to be learned from each one. Most baskets had a purpose or use in mind when the weaver began. Some needed laundry or storage baskets, others needed a place for keepsakes. Whatever the reason, a person or two worked to gather locally available materials for their task.
In Maine it was brown or black ash trees and maybe sea grass or sweet grass. Thought and preparations went into basket making. Grasses were gathered in summer or early fall. Trees too have a season for splitting and preparing. Winter was a good time to weave. But as I saw as a child, I saw older women teaching very young ones to weave after harvesting grasses, while summer folks were in the area to purchase these freshly made gems.
People learn in a variety of ways. Books offer anyone anywhere the opportunity to study and reproduce the skills taught within it’s pages. I have difficulty learning without seeing the steps in person or photos. Classes are a fine way to see ” hands on techniques” and small details that text may miss or not explain. I took my first basket class in the spring of 2001 and I was not the best student but I was persistent. I loved the feel of the materials, ( if not the mess it made) and the ability to make a basket in under 1 hour. No long commitment for me. Since then I have made and sold tens of thousands of baskets and I am still learning. Easier, faster, simpler ways to work my trade. But most important is that I still love the process and I am not limited by harvesting local materials, (I get mine from the UPS man and reed importer). And I still teach or share this process with people as often as I can. So whether you have a basket kit or class or video you too can learn and enjoy the experience of basket weaving.
I see them in my sleep.
Now you see them too……. RIGHT
Last year, the owner of Circa Home Living called me with an idea, he asked if I could weave a bee skep.
For years I have pondered ways to make bee skeps. They are great garden pieces, and I wanted to fill a hole in the market created when my friend Steve, stopped importing them from the Philippines, 10 years ago.
While photographing bee items for their catalog, they borrowed an old woven horse muzzle and saw, a bee skep. I knew at once what to do after kicking myself for not figuring it out years before. I have seen several photos of muzzles and never thought “bee skep”, but they did (good catch).
I quickly made samples for them. We have sold 100’s, and they are on the hunt for another fabulous idea to grace primitive homes and gardens. Thanks for letting me be a part of the fun, Verg and Noel !