Harvesting Black Ash Splints for Basketry.

During Eric’s workshops, many of his students ask him about the process of harvesting Black Ash basket materials. However, Eric only has time for a quick verbal explanation. Then I remembered that he mentioned he saw a video online about this subject. So I sent him an official inter-office request (a pink powerpuff girl post-it note left on his workstation) to email me the link to this video to post on my blog. It was created by basketry artist, and Abenaki Indian, Jesse Larocque in the summer of 2010. Viewing the process, rather than hearing about it, definitely gives you a better idea of what is involved in obtaining the materials to make a Black Ash basket. This short video thoroughly displays the steps in removing the ash splints from the tree — specifically the pounding of wood. In one part, the artist is demonstrating the “Splitting to Satin” (it looks like one strip of wood being split in two with one half pulled to the left and one half pulled to the right) which I have tried in Eric’s workshop. I can attest that it’s harder than it looks and if you do it long enough, it’s very good for the biceps! I lasted about two minutes before I began whining that my arms were hurting. It’s clear that Jesse is highly experienced because the whole process looks easy for him, but we all know otherwise. So if you have not seen this video before, it is below. You can find more info about Jesse Larocque and his Black Ash basket making at his website: www.abenakibaskets.com

**For many of my email subscribers: If you do not see a video above, your browser or email service does not allow videos to be sent. Simply click on the header/title and it will bring you to the blog where you can see the video for this post.

You Scratch My Blog, I’ll Scratch Yours.

I am the first to admit that I am a little clueless when it comes to blogging. I say a ‘little’ because as of today, I’m not totally clueless, thanks to first, Tony Stubblefied of Jaskets who told me to just launch the blog and let it create itself (superb advice) and to Cathryn of Wicker Woman who has been blogging for almost a decade! She sent me several valuable tips and wrote a glowing shout out on her blog! You can view her post I have pictured, here. To see the great ‘shout out’ she wrote about moi (well, and a shout out to Tony and my husband, but I’m feeling a bit narcissistic today… so it’s all about me!) click here. Thanks Cathryn!


P.S. Cathryn… I agree with what you wrote and you should get in your car and drive down to see Eric at Tony’s over the summer in Missouri! (Of course, because I’m pretending to be narcissistic today, I want you there so you can show me more tricks on the blogosphere! And if you have time for a basket or two, we could probably fit that in.)

Eric’s Latest Creation… in Progress.

Eric has been working on a new basket design for about a year now. I am taking photos at the different stages of development. This is the most recent one. The base (which you cannot see in the photo because it is all taped up) is gorgeous along with the handle he created. But at the moment, the handle design is top secret. The basket has over 100 uprights! Maybe that’s why this basket is driving him crazy. I usually enjoy watching him weave since it seems so effortless to him. Reminds me of my brother when he is skating. He can skate backwards faster than most going forward. And it’s like he’s gliding over the ice… so effortless. I have weaved two baskets before (That is correct. I am not a basket maker.) and my posture, hands and technique all show great effort (or distress – depends which angle you’re viewing me) when I’m weaving. No gliding-over-the-ice appearance for me. But this time, for Eric, I’ve heard him speak with not-so-nice-words about this basket. We have also been trying to come up with a name for this basket. The latest contender is one I cannot repeat here. But I think it’s going a lot smoother now since he actually cracked a smile before I took this shot!