Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pine Needle Basketry is an Opportunity to Live in the Moment


Doing Pine Needle Basketry is a really great opportunity to slow down and stay in the moment with your own breath. It is a meditation in itself. When you have yourself settled down this way, you don't project your mental state into the future and instead take great care and interest in each stitch. The old saying that a stitch in time saves nine is so true.

 I started work on a Pine Needle Basket today and I think you can see from the very beginnings of this basket that there is a certain relaxed contentment in it.

This is the thing about making Pine Needle Baskets, we learn by our mistakes and what works for us and what doesn't. Being adaptable and creative can be so much more than just doing a stitch and liking how it looks. Everything about the art form from picking the needles up off the ground, washing and drying them, baking them in glycerin or dyeing them has an energy of love which we infuse with every step into the process of each basket. Art is a process and cultivating the resiliency to be in constant awe and creative adaptability goes a long way towards the overall look of any given basket. It is best to just chalk up any set backs as " experience" and move lovingly forward to the next step in the process. Next time you process some needles try something new or wait for a warmer day. Sometimes this is why baskets can take a long time, because we wait for the perfect moment to do things. This doesn't always come easy. I always want to push things through with my mojo but as I grow older I start to see a wonderful rhythm and energy to the ups and downs or trials of making a basket.

I have tasted the hidden honey of the lotus that expands on the ocean of light, and thus, I am blessed. Let this be my parting word. - Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mystic Journey Pine Needle Basket

"Mystic Journey Pine Needle Basket"
The Mystic Journey is the journey of the soul.
As the Poet Wordsworth once wrote:
Our birth is but a sleeping and a forgetting
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere it's setting
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
can in a moment travel thither
The very beginnings of the Mystic Journey.
 Paua Shell cabochon glued to a piece of leather.

1st row going on second row.
I make my stitches tight and close.

Putting on the 1st row of 6 mm lapis beads

Lapis bead row almost complete

1st row of solid teal wrapping

A Row of Czech glass teal colored
 beads between rows.

Added a row of larger 10mm Lapis Beads
 and then another solid teal row is begun

Solid Teal row is completed and starting a row of cobalt
 colored czech glass beads between rows.

The cobalt beads I used were silver lined.
Here is a close up of we stringing
them in between rows.

Another close up.
You can really see the beauty of the Lapis Beads.

Teal colored glass Czech beads
used between rows.

The light looks beautiful
through the Teal Beads

This is where I am adding a row of 8mm Lapis beads
and starting to come up the sides of the basket.

The sides of the Basket are being formed
and I added another solid teal row to end the whole thing.

close up of center

The Back of the Basket.

Side View of Finished Basket
Note my bee hives in the background!

Angled View

Alternate View of Finished Basket

Finished View of "Mystic Journey"
This basket is 10"x 10" by 3" high.
It was made between Oct 15 - Nov 13, 2014
in East Gloucester, MA by Melissa Smith Abbott
Joseph Campbell once said, 

" Where we had thought to travel

outward, we shall come to the center of our 

own existence 


we thought we were alone, 

we shall be with all the world." This 


 in fact, the crux of the Mystic Journey 

we all take on this path 

                                 called life.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Forest Sky Bowl - completed Oct 2014 Gloucester, MA

"Forest Sky Bowl" 

Begun in July 2014 in Mirror Lake N.H. and finished October 2014 in Gloucester, MA using a green turquoise cabashon with malachite, yellow jade, copper beads, carnelian and glass beads with Crawfords Irish Linen thread waxed with beeswax Needles were sourced on Merritt Island, Fl and preserved in a glycerin bath.

The Start

note: copper spacer beads in plastic package

Close up of start on
Dyed Green Turquoise Cabashon - I love the flecks of gold in it!

Close Up of Copper Spacer Beads used

Working at this at Mirror Lake, N.H. and putting on a row of green glass beads 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pine Needle Basket "Amber Rose" finished July 2014

Pine Needle Basket created by Melissa Abbott during the Spring and Summer of 2014. Basket was begun in Merritt Island, FL, sourced with local Pine Needles 
gathered there after a wind storm. 

The Very Beginning - Jasper Caboshon

Adding some Beads
 Amber, Red Glass Mariposa, and Carnelian

Tools of the Trade

Work continued on the basket after Melissa 
returned to Gloucester, MA

The Basket starts to create a bowl

The Basket was finished during July 2014 in Gloucester, MA. The basket's needles were treated with a baked Glycerin bath for preservation which darkened them slightly. Crawford's Irish Linen Beeswaxed Thread was used with a Jasper Center, Amber colored beads, Red Glass Mariposa beads, and 
Semi Prescious Carnelian Stone Beads.

Nearing the End

Working on it at Niles Beach in Gloucester, MA

Basket was finished July 17, 2014 in Gloucester, MA

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Making of Haley's Round Nantucket Six Inch Basket Purse with Scrimshaw

Haley with her Basket

I made this basket for Haley last fall. It is a 6 inch round Nantucket Basket with a lid which I fashioned into a small purse. I used cherry bases, cherry long handle, bone findings, an old ivory piano key for the nameplate, and an ivory scrimshaw piece I did myself. This scrimshaw was my very first attempt at doing some scrimshaw and while primitive and a student piece, I was happy with the outcome. In fact, the whole basket was an experiment. I had recently purchased a 6" Lid Mold from DELS Nantuckets and wanted to try it out.  
The very start of the weaving
The first few rows of weaving.
They are always the hardest part of the basket for me.
After I got going on the Base.
Starting to look good but still needs a lot of packing
The Basket comes off the Mold
View of Interior before any varnishing
Doesn't look too Bad

Varnishing after I got the lid made
and the hinges on

Haley with her son Austin and husband Brian at our home at Christmas. 2013
I gave her the basket as a Christmas Present 
Towards the End of Making Basket - I have glued on the scrimshaw but haven't gotten on the bone hasp yet

Finished Basket

View of Interior with Lining

Still on the Workbench

Interior Name Plate done on an old Piano Key

Close up of Lighthouse Island Scrimshaw
My very first Attempt at Scrimshaw

I think the Scrimshaw lights up the basket!

The very first of my new Nantucket 6 inch round basket purses and what a satisfying project it was and a wonderful gift for Haley! I hope to make many more!!This was made during the Fall of 2013 in Gloucester, MA. This basket should last her for years to come and be the perfect summer purse! I hope she enjoys and loves it!

Happy Basket Making,
Melissa Abbott