Appalachian Egg Basket
It’s high time I did some posting. I have been very lax. I was very fortunate to be able to take a class with one of North Carolina’s ‘Living Treasures’, Billie Ruth Sudduth. She taught a class at Penland School of Crafts last July and I was able to attend.
She is most notably known for her ‘Cat Head’ baskets, hence my interest. I learned to make them from one of her books. This class was for “Big” baskets and that they were.
The extra large Calabash clam basket is 15″ in diameter. She named it after a tiny shrimping town on the southern coast of NC and the pattern is named for the bivalve clam. The Chevron pattern is a signature of the Chitimachas tribe of Indians from Louisiana.
This basket uses a ’twill’ weave which is any weave other than over one/under one. There are endless variations of twill weaves. This particular weave is over two/under one which creates an extremely strong basket.
The Bushel basket is 19″ high with a 12″ top diameter. It has multiple colors and is a simple over one/under one weave. We hand dyed all of our reed in this class. The handles are hand carved oak. And, no, I did not carve them myself. Good Grief! I guess you could use this as a laundry basket.
The egg basket is 19″ wide and 14″ deep. I have never seen an egg basket this large. The lashing which holds the two hoops together on each side is called an “ear”. There are different kinds of lashing. The most common one is a “God’s Eye” is a four point lashing. The one used here is a three point lashing, most commonly used in Southern Appalachia. It is also known as “donkey ears”.
We also made a large ‘cat head’ basket. I have not finished the rim yet. I am trying something a little different on that and will post it separately soon.
I like the look of old, old baskets especially from the southern Appalachian mountain areas. Although my baskets don’t have an old look they give a hint of flavor of the old South. I guess they are considered to be primitive because they are so simply made and are over 100 years old. I should do some research are them.
The large square is a repro of the tobacco leaf drying basket. You can still find some in flea markets in the southern states. They were usually quite large; mine is only 14″ x 14″. It is the only basket that is stapled together as far as I know. I used 1″ flat reed and stained it a driftwood color. They are great to hang on a wall. Very graphic looking.
The other is simple centerpiece or mantle basket. It has a high handle (not sure why) and again I kept it very plain with as gray stain although a lot were painted. I’ll try that next.
Japanese/Penland Style Basket
I haven’t posted anything in so long. I was invited to put my baskets in a consignment store in Bristol, TN. so I was very busy with preparing for that. I’m very excited about it and hope to sell some. I am also preparing for a craft fair in June and have been feverishly making more baskets for that!
This particular basket, shown above, is a combination of an old Japanese basket pinned on Pinterest and a basket made by Billy Ruth Sudduth. (I’ll be taking a class with her in July!) The Japanese style uses all ’round’ reed. I have used ‘rattan’ flat reed for the curls as does Sudduth but I added a handle and the basket is tall like the Japanese one.
It was not particularly hard to make but needed a lot of measuring and adjusting of the round reed spaces. There are 100 individual curls and each curl is inserted into each space. When the basic form of the basket was finished I gave it a dark Rosewood stain and the rim is a very light Rosewood.
The handle is made from reed strips and wrapped with a topknot to finish it off. I’m very pleased with it and hope you are too.
Lg. Cat Head w/Lid
I have finally finished the lid for this basket! It was touch and go there for a while. After throwing out the 1st lid, and giving up on the 2nd lid I was determined to make a lid and make it right. Since I was making it without a pattern or anything else to study I found it to be ‘extreeemly’ difficult.
What I ended up with is an enclosed pyramid. With a flat top. Or an upside down top! Ha! And, hey, I really like it. But I won’t be doing another one anytime soon!
Just trying to explain this thing is difficult. Like, does saying I put a base on the bottom and ended with a base on the top make any sense? Let me know because that’s what I did. After I found the finial for the top online, Ha!, I knew what I wanted the finished product to look like. And so, this lid will forever be called “The Third Lid”. At least in my mind’s eye!
Let me know what you think.
People used to pick their beans in this form of basket. I especially like the wire handles that are made for this basket. Of course from the beginning of time humans used baskets to carry, store and cook in. Today, we still do that but they are also used as an art form or a basket craft. You have to agree that baskets are beautiful. Well, at least, I think so.
Well I’m having real problems with this lid. I was on my 3rd lid today but when I left my weekly basket club, it was less done then when I brought it in 3 hours earlier!
In the end, I think that this 3rd lid will really work. I just cannot finish by Saturday.
I have gone back to the 2nd lid! Ha! Maybe, with some changes, I can have it finished by the end of the day tomorrow. If not, oh well, no lid for Saturday’s show and tell.
I’ll get back to you tomorrow.
I have finished the basket I was working on. It came out a little smaller than I thought but is still quite large at 12″x13″x13″ and I am very happy with it. The others I have made do not have very prominent feet (or ears).
I used a pattern from a book of Billie Ruth Suddith’s. She is one of North Carolina‘s best known weavers. She designed the original Carolina Snowflake but is also known for her cathead baskets.
A member of the Toe River Arts Council, Mrs. Suddith was one of about 40 artists who opened their studios to the general public 2 weeks ago. Getting to meet her was an honor.
Mrs. Suddith’s instructions for the cathead base are the clearest and most comprehensive I’ve come across and I was able to make very deep feet (or ears) which I have been wanting to do. Also is she uses a much smaller reed than I’ve seen in other patterns.
So on to the next project!
The “Cat Head” basket has four pointed ‘feet’ on which it sits. When held upside down, the feet give the impression of ears, and so, the “Cat Head”.
This basket was first created by the Shakers who used molds. Now we can create them without molds in many shapes and any size. The baskets shown are about 10x10x6. I am working on one that will be about 15x15x20. Quite large! I’ll let you know how it goes.