|Finished Nantucket Purse
|Beginning of Nantucket Basket Purse
Putting the Staves on the Mold
|D.E.L.S. - Makes Nantucket Purse Moldshttp://www.delsnantuckets.com
|Shaping the Rims
|In the above photo, I am gluing on the rims and beginning the purse top or cover. You have to remember that these baskets were state of the art in the times before plastic bags. Apparently, the tradition on Nantucket Island was that everyone had their own basket and often it would have their name carved in whale bone with scrimshaw which is a technique where designs and writing are scratched into the bone and blackened with India ink. The names on the baskets were so as to identify the baskets at church suppers. Whale bone was something they had a lot of and they used it for findings on the baskets. The early settlers of Nantucket Island learned about Whaling from the Wampanoag Indians there. They would fish for whales just offshore as the whales passed by Nantucket Island fairly closely at that time. It is also thought that the tradition of the baskets also came from the Indians on the Island who originally weaved them from pine needles. Later, when the whalers went to the far east they brought back cane and rattan to use and it replaced the pine needles. There is still a tradition of making pine needle purses similar to the Nantucket Baskets in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts (see my blog on them:http://gloucesterwomanbaskets.blogspot.com/2012/06/i-have-always-loved-pine-trees.html .
Eventually with the incorporation of more modern materials in the baskets, such as rattan, cane, and various woods, a very sturdy and practical basket was designed. The original molds for some Nantucket baskets were often woven over old boom and mast pieces from whaling vessels. The older molds are highly prized by the local Nantucket basket makers to this day.
|Weaving the Purse Top. You can see my purse bottom finished in the rear and the lashing done on it.