Basket Art - An Appreciation

Put all the dumb jokes about being a basket case out of your head and take a close look at these basket creations. If this isn't art, then Picasso couldn't draw. Contemporary basket weaving is coming into its own, and many people are realizing that it is a great collectible art form. I admire traditional basket weaving  as well kootenaybskt(sample at left is from Kootenay region). In recent years, contemporary artists have been making hanging as well as sculptural pieces that belong in art museums, as opposed to history museums, and rising prices reflect their redefined value.

The basketry of Native Americans that I saw as a child at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven always fascinated me. Pure function, these baskets gathered crops, served food, and were as functional in their time as Rubbermaid containers are to our lifestyles. Design and ornamentation played a secondary role to pure function, and it was easy to imagine people using these as everyday utensils.

Fast forward a few hundred years and you have baskets that will never hold anything but the imagination. Fantastic shapes and vibrant colors have replaced the purelymuhl2 functional aspect, and you begin to appreciate the fact that the weavers of these incredible baskets are very highly skilled artists.

Debora Muhl is using Maine sweet grass as is was used by Native Americans. It releases a natural oil as it dries that in turn gives off a vanilla essence. She call her finished works “vessels” and specializes in coiled baskets thomsonwith fantastic sculpulptural shapes.

The elegant handwoven willow baskets of Susie Thomson incorporate German traditions with English basket weaving techniques. Her work features natural colors, with the unpeeled willows accentuating the tightly woven patterns and rhythms within her organic forms.durfeybskt


Basketry has allowed Wendy Durfey to explore three-dimensional shapes that merge traditional and contemporary styles with strong Japanese and North American techniques.  Working with double wall baskets, she has incorporated bamboo, paper and metal into the weaving.

guttSusan Gutt works with rattan reed, juniper roots, salt cedar, bamboo, brown ash, and a variety of willow -- some imported and some gathered from the arroyos and bosques of New Mexico where she lives. Her contemporary basket work ends up as wall pieces and free standing sculptures, some almost ten feet tall.abramsbskt


Jackie Abrams creates vessels she calls “Women Forms” to reflect her travel experiences and the women from many cultures who have impacted on her life. Australia and Africa are strong influences, along with the fabrics, colors, and people she encounters.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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