Posted by: oceannah | December 14, 2012

Basket Case

field basket

this field basket is made of purchased reed with ash handles. It is a sturdy basket that holds a fair amount of goodies from the field.  Size:  apx.  15 inches high, 18 inches across

Here are a few baskets I’ve made, the one above is the most recent.  Working with natural materials to create useful vessels whether they be clay or fiber is one of my favorite things to spend time on.  Purchased materials or those collected straight from the land offer simple yet beautiful ways to keep things organized or haul in a crop.

It has been a hectic time with my mom in the hospital since last week and now getting PT in a rehab facility so I haven’t had as much time as I would like  to organize for Christmas.  So far, we have the tree up.

field basket

a peek inside, nice and clean still 😉  This basket traveled to the county fair and won a blue ribbon!

ash splint basket

my garlic basket: made from white ash and basswood (hanger & lashing).  The splints are cleaved from the tree by beating said ash with a large smooth mallet, thus releasing each years growth in long strips. The strips then need to be shaved to size and finally woven into baskets. A long and tedious project that is best done in the company of friends and good weather as was this basket.  Size:  14 inches high 10 inches across.

I love this basket for it’s many reasons.  First it was made during a great week of primitive camping with friends.  Second it’s where I keep the ‘in use’ garlic in the kitchen.  It has a pleasing organic shape.  Perhaps the thing I love most though is this basket is part of a lineage of utilitarian items that have been formed from land and hand alone.  Knowing how to turn a tree into such a useful object is one of my little secret pleasures.  Just being part of the long line of basket weavers through the ages is an honor…I’m certainly no master, but I know the skills and can continue perfecting them over time.

berry basket

an old and familiar basket now stained with the crush of berries it has helped harvest.  Melon basket style with gods eye, of purchased materials, wooden handle.   Size apx:  16 inches across 16 inches high

Regular readers will recognize this basket, which is beginning to show a lot of wear.  I made this a few years ago to harvest berries.  It has done a splendid job and holds a huge amount of berries.  I love the large handle that easily slides over my arm and rests in the crook of my elbow while busily picking with both hands.

detail of gods eye basket

basket detail gods eye

hank of dogbane fiber

We have abundant milkweed here which is useful for cordage/fiber but I’ve not been seeing a lot of dogbane. One day recently while walking at the college I spied a stand of dogbane and made a bit of a collection. The fiber here is in a rather raw state. Merely stripped from the plant and awaiting the next step toward actually useful cordage. Dogbane makes a  cord strong enough for a bow string!

Traditional crafts like weaving baskets is very much a part of our Catskill heritage.  One of our favorite books to read with our daughter is The Ox-Cart Man which is set in rural upstate NY not all that far from where I sit today.  It is a lovely story and a Caledcott Medal winner (illustrations/ Barbara Cooney).  If you have young people in your life and treasure simpler times and activities, find & read this book with them.

I hope your baskets are full of all good things today!



  1. These are lovely! I would love to learn how to do this!

    • Thanks Stacey. I posted this above for Heidi, but I could SO imagine you and your little one weaving away…
      Happy Holiday to you all…may the coyotes roam elsewhere this coming year.

      • Thanks so much! Here’s hoping the coyotes go away, if not, my New Year’s resolution is to get my gun license . . .

        Have a good one!

      • Sounds like a reasonable plan Stacey. Make lots of great merry with your wee one this season ;0

  2. beautiful

    • Thanks!
      Merry! Happy! Joyful! to you and yours.

  3. Oh Anna (now I know why you were on my mind so much).
    That they’re prize winning is no surprise; your baskets are beautifully made! My basket overflows with love for friends and best wishes for your Mom’s speedy recovery!

  4. These are beautiful! I’d love to see a post about the process sometime, I can’t imagine how they come together so nicely – I expect my attempt would look a lot like your collection of dogbane…

    • That’s an idea I will consider…a good spring project, as I won’t be making any baskets til then. When they are in process they do look a bit wild, especially the big ones. Happy Holiday!! I hope you are enjoying your winter break.

  5. Anna I have the same basket, the berry one with a handle…was my MIL, I love it. Not sure where it came from, did you make yours?

    • I did make them all Cindy…but the berry basket is a very common design, and simple too. Merry Christmas to you and your husband. Are you staying in NH or traveling?

  6. Anna… they are GORGEOUS!!! You are so talented in many ways.

    • Thank you Sandi. We all have our niche, eh? Sending you and the family a Holiday hug to wrap you each in the light and peace of this blessed season.

  7. these are so beautiful and made with much love, it shows.

    • Thank you Joss. Sending you a basketful of holiday cheer this season. May your days be simply beautiful all the coming year.

  8. Beautiful baskets, Anna. Such talent and patience! Hope your mom is able to be home soon.

    • Thanks Audrey…mom is doing well and preparing for selling her house and transitioning into something smaller and more manageable. Happy Holidays to you and all the pups!!

      • Glad to hear it, Anna! Happy holidays to you and yours as well!

      • Thanks Audrey!

  9. How clever are you!

    • Clever? Aw, now you made me blush…thanks. Happy Holiday and a treasure trove of new adventures for your new year!

  10. Wow they are brilliant. can I come live with you? haha 🙂

    • Thanks so much Shannon…I love the way ‘Brilliant’ sounds w/ a Brit flair 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and James.

  11. I love your various weaves and superb little touches. We have basket weavers here whose craft improves each year. When one woman began teach basketry, the weaves were looser, more arty/funky and certainly conversation pieces. Now I see baskets that are tighter, more sturdy looking and certainly more functional. They are wonderfully useful works of art. Your garlic carrier is a great idea. I haven’t seen one of those around here.

    I bought a basket that rides in my passengar seat as a catch all. The fiddly things one needs to keep handy are in the basket instead of cluttering a seat that may be quickly needed.

    • P.S. – Hope your mom is well soon, Anna.

      • Thanks very much Amy xo

    • Oh Amy the car basket is a great idea! I’ll have to see about putting that on the list. Sending you warm wishes for a blessed season of light and love.

  12. Beautiful! My mom and I signed up for a course on basket weaving a few years ago, but it was cancelled before it started. I’d still love to learn someday.

    • Heidi you would be an awesome basket weaver…you are so skilled with your hands already. I’m betting that a good book would be sufficient for you. I’d start here:
      Carol Hart is an amazing basket maker…I met her many many years ago and she is also a lovely woman.
      Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  13. Hand made is so very beautiful. Sending blessings to your mom and the whole family.

    • Thank you for the blessings, mom is doing a bit better. May you have a blessed season of Joy!

  14. Those are beautiful baskets Anna!

    • thanks so much Karen! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

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