Baskets have been made all over the globe for thousands of years, usually with a specific purpose in mind. Some were for storing foods, used as cooking pots, to separate grain from chaff, or as containers for carrying things from place to place.
Last summer at the Ship Wreck Museum in Key West,
I saw basket covered wine jugs that had been recovered from wrecks. The basketry probably protected the jugs from breaking on the long ocean voyages, and provided a handle.
Traditional baskets were made from whatever natural materials were at hand using tree bark, branches, grasses, and even roots. Today there are basket makers who still follow the traditional shapes and designs, but there are others who use basket materials and techniques to make more sculptural forms that are not intended to be containers that store things.
I usually begin a basket by deciding I want to work with a certain material, maybe yarn, some cord I like, or something I find in my yard or at the beach.
In late summer of 2011, my three granddaughters and their parents made a quick trip to the Bay Area for a family wedding. They stopped by my home for a one day visit before heading back to Camas, Washington.
My other son, who lives a bit north of Sacramento, brought his family here and we had a cookout.
While the adults sat and talked, the four children ran around my big yard making up games. At one point they asked for a deck of cards. The kids had so much energy, the day went by like a whirlwind.
Walking through my yard the next day, I picked up a long green branch with a few leaves which appeared to have been torn off the sycamore tree. I suspected someone was swinging on it like Tarzan. Then, I spotted four playing cards a short distance away.
Instead of putting the branch into the green waste bin, I wound it around a few times until I had a shape I liked. I inserted the playing cards, still in the shape of my grandson’s hand, between two circles of branch, and named it “Grandma Meets the Whirlwind.”
This is the quickest I have ever made a basket. It reminds me of a perfect day with all my family.