My sister's baskets

My sister, Laurie, has always been creative, and so often her talent leaves me speechless. Her latest self-taught craft is the art of basket making, and the collection of small baskets displayed in her house clearly shows her skill.

Laurie first got interested in making baskets 6 or 7 years ago. She collects all the materials, including cedar bark, cattail, tule, sweetgrass (a sedge), and bark such as cherry and maple. She admits to loving the process of gathering materials almost as much as she loves weaving them into baskets.

The twine pieces in this photograph are samples of cordage made from various materials:  cattail, sweetgrass, dandelion stems, and nettle fiber. She says making twine is fun and easy, something they demonstrate and teach to their historical museum's visiting school children, even the little 1st graders. This year they taught the 7th graders how to make twine from cattails.

Tiny, delicate bits of twine made from natural materials are ready to weave into a basket.

My sister says it’s not hard to learn the basics of basket making, but it’s much harder than it looks to make a really beautiful, well-crafted basket. She has the knack of seeing how a basket is constructed, the materials used and the patterns needed, but says it's harder to make her fingers do what her brain tells her to do. Basket weaving requires patience, and lots and lots of practice. She gets together with a group of friends every week, and that helps keep her motivated.

Here are some of her creations.

The string of shells that decorates this basket ends with a limpet shell

The small stone bear perfectly matches the colors in this basket,
which is decorated with a feather from a Steller Jay

This tiny basket with two different weaves is only about
three inches high, and less than an inch thick
The basket to the right is woven tightly around a closed clam shell that's
filled with tiny shells and stones to make it a rattle. The basket holds the
shell closed, and it makes a lovely hollow sound when shaken.

This beautiful loosely woven basket is made from seawood, and holds a collection of shells

This basket has a braided handle, and the top edge
is decorated with strings of wooden beads

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