Before These, There’s Those

Before one of Eric Taylor’s baskets can be created like these (which are still in progress) ….baskets-in-progress-after-molds

there needs to be those, (pictured below) which happen to be molds! Lots of molds. Molds for the handles, the rims and the bases. And all of these molds have to be made in different sizes, depending on the basket design or style.

Various molds for bases of Eric’s baskets.
To the left are the base molds. To the right are a few molds for the Mini and Smalls basket Handles.
These odd shapes form the molds for the larger sized basket handles.
And don’t forget the rims. These hanging molds were built by Eric to hold lots of rims at once.
After the rims are boiled, Eric lightly pounds ‘pins’ into them around the molds. I took a close-up because I love the texture these ‘pins’ make.

As you can see, there’s a whole lot more to basket making than just coming up with a design and weaving it! And for Eric, there’s more work because he insists on bending his own wood, making his own molds from scratch and boiling material for his handles.

It unquestionably makes me, a non-basketmaker, appreciate the art & craft, and how much work goes into making not only a bunch of baskets, but even just one basket!

How Did He Create Those Handles?

When Eric teaches a basket that has his personally-designed ear handles (such as his pencil basket, cottage business card or mountain tubs), I get this question a lot: “How did he create those handles.?”

All I can say, is that he came up with the design about six years ago and basically, it comes down to a pencil and a piece of cherry wood. He draws the handle outline on wood and then he painstakingly cuts it out and shapes every single handle. Very time-consuming but important to point out that EVERY piece in one of Eric’s baskets or basket kits are designed and created by him. I’m still in awe of his work and his craft.

Five Questions Friday: Vote!

Q: Aren’t you glad you don’t have a permanent fur coat like Chance during this heat?
Eric: Yes. But it comes in handy during the winter!

Q: Did you hear about JoAnn Kelly Catsos’ chance of one of her baskets being on the October cover of The Crafts Report magazine?
Eric: Yes. I saw it on Facebook. She made it through all the rounds down to the top final four.

Q: How long have you known JoAnn?
Eric: JoAnn and I go way back in terms of basket years.  You’ve heard of dog years — well there is such a thing as basket years.

Q: How many years exactly is a basket year?
Eric: It’s not really a specific number of years per se. It’s more based on the “story.” You see, back in the day, in the deep woods of Sanbornton, New Hampshire, those wanting to learn how to make Shaker Baskets came from all over. Some came for a few days and some came for a few weeks. Some came every year for a week.

And everyone came for different reasons. Some had bigger aspirations, like JoAnn Kelly Catsos. She was one of those that was there at the beginning. It was evident early on that she might be the one that would take the craft of basketry a step further.

Q: She must have because I see her name and her work everywhere!
She definitely did. Twenty (plus) years later she is one of the most predominant black ash basket makers in the country. And she needs our help! As I said, she is now in the final four candidates to have their work on the cover of Crafts Report magazine! A vote for JoAnn is not only your recognition of her work, but will help all basket makers from all over to have their craft on the front page!

Well put Eric! The voting will end early Saturday morning so vote now! I’ll make it real easy – just click here to vote!

Now, if you follow me on Facebook, you know how much I dislike their new Timeline format! I can never find anything or see where I’m supposed to post, etc. etc. – So it took me awhile to find the correct post to hit “LIKE” so I made a screenshot (to the right) of the one to vote on. When you go to the link I gave you above, people are adding new posts so it gets lost for timeline-inept people like me! When you find the image that has the same text above JoAnn’s basket (as it is in the small picture snapshot I have here) then right below the image, hit “LIKE”.

It’s that simple!! And you need to vote before 10 am July 14th. So don’t wait and just vote now! No excuses people if she is not October’s Cover Girl!!

Cover Contest FINALIST: JoAnn Kelly Catsos "Jubilique" (photo by Jeff Magidson). Follow link below to click LIKE to vote this image onto the cover of the October 2012 Crafts Report!

To learn more about JoAnn and her work visit her website here.