Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Thursday, April 30, 2015
"Withy" trap made for catching crabs in the UK.
Withy Pots are the East Devon Style from Budleigh Salterton in Devon, UK. Dave French's family has made them for generations.
Dave French making a Crab/Lobster Pot out of Willow. This type of pot is called a "Withy" Pot. He learned this craft from his grandfather. It is a dying art and virtually unknown in the USA. I have to say I am completely intrigued. My husband lobsters in Gloucester, MA with a non commercial license so I am familiar with lobstering. As a basket maker it seems like a possible fun project to try making one of two of these pots!
I met Dave French on a basket weavers group on Facebook. He sent me these photos. I am completely intrigued!
Sunday, April 5, 2015
I found out that Nantucket Basket Maker, Author, and Authority Martha Lawrence is living an hour and half south of me in Florida where I reside in the winter months. She is the author of "Lightship Baskets of Nantucket" http://www.amazon.com/Lightship-Baskets-Nantucket-Schiffer-Collectors/dp/0764308912 one of my all time favorite books on these very special baskets.
I contacted her and she agreed to give me a lesson and we started off with a basic 6 inch Basket.
Martha is delightful, knowledgable and very charming. I was thrilled to get to work with her and learn some techniques, tips, and tricks.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I finally finished the basket in February 2015 in Merritt Island, FL.
This is 8" Nantucket Basket Purse made with Oak Staves, Bases, and Handle. It is as solid as a rock! I had never attempted a basket purse with hardwood only with cane. I spent months fiddling around with this, and the basket isn't perfect, in so many ways, but it is strong and resilient. I have been joking with people that it will be around much longer than you and I. I am not sure I would do another Oak Purse or not, because there is so little "give", but if I do, I have come up against all the pitfalls of working with this medium in this piece so I am sure my next one would be better. Most challenging basket I have ever made and this includes all my Pine Needle Baskets. I haven't yet decided where I will put a bone scallop shell on the top or do a small scrimshaw. Honestly, the bag has so many errors that I may keep it as an example of " what not to do" for the future and remember how far I have come in my Nantucket Basket Journey!This winter I am making a 8" Nantucket Basket Purse with Oak Base and Staves. I plan on some really great Scrimshaw for the project too!
This is the very start of the Basket:
Almost to the end of weaving the basket base:
More to come as the process develops!!..... Meanwhile I am posting a few pics of some of my Nantucket Basket Molds:
The molds are used to make the shape of the basket. Piece of wood or rattan called Staves are the ribs of the basket. I have placed them into a base ( made of oak) which is slotted.
The Nantucket Baskets were originally woven on molds made out of old masts and booms off wrecked ships. Oak is the material these particular staves are made from but people use all kinds of woods for bases and staves.
Many people use Rattan for staves too. I am weaving with Rattan or Cane.
Traditionally on Nantucket (where I learned this style of basket making from a teacher named Peter Finch) baskets may have been made from other materials other than rattan. Since it is thought that some basket making skills may have been inherited from the Local Wampanoag Indians, they may have even used Pine Needles. There is a bit of a historical connection with the shakers and some early families on the Island and you can see that influence. I have many Molds. I also do a little scrimshaw and use ivory and bone findings (antique of course).
There is a wonderful video of Jose Reyes on YouTube:
This was a real leap of crazy faith to do this basket without much instruction or a mentor to help me with hardwood baskets. I have some supplies to make a cherry basket purse next with cherry staves and I am hoping I do a better job with that!
Melissa Smith Abbott