And when I say “a few hours” it really is for a few hours.
Part of my job description as the Basketmaker’s Wife involves helping Eric with his patterns for exhibit baskets. (Exhibit baskets are special. For his other baskets, he’s on his own…)
He creates preliminary sketches on grid paper and then I electronically reproduce all into one drawing. Then Eric is able to make changes on my computer. And when I say “changes on my computer” that means him sitting next to me, looking over my shoulder, telling me what square to move where.
I know what you’re asking, “Lynne, how can you calmly (y’all are assuming with the word ‘calmly’) sit there and move around a bunch of squares. That must be grueling.”
All I can say is that I gladly do it with no complaints, mind you… as long as my glass of wine is refreshed without me even asking.
Mr. Basketmaker has been busy in the shop getting ready for his classes in North Carolina. And as he mentioned in his post Saturday that since moving to Tennessee I’ve had to put all my painting on the back burner for a bit, it was the same for him. He as well has not been able to replenish his inventory for basket kits, and only producing materials for his classes and when he got an order.
He’s definitely caught up and has a hearty supply of kit materials, which means there’s lots of instruction and pattern sheet edits and printing that needs to be done. Who does that? The marketing department. And at Eric Taylor Basketry, that department is a one-woman show. When I get the stacks printed, I pile them in sections on his blue table where all his sorted parts are.
So if you will be in North Carolina, please stop by Eric’s table during Market Night and get some kits! In addition he has had a long-running waiting list for his woven mini baskets. He was also able to make some of those as well and will have them available for sale too.
Thank you for supporting two self-employed artists! It’s not an easy life but it’s what we love doing.
Many of you know, especially if you have taken a workshop from Eric, that his baskets are made on forms or otherwise better known as molds. Here’s a quick lesson from the “wife” on the first stage of creating these molds (yes, there are several stages).
All of the molds used in Eric’s workshops are glued, then planed, then shaped and finished by Eric. If I could stand the smell of all that glue, I could help him. But as I said, I cannot stand the smell of all that glue! So he has to create all his molds by himself.
So the first stage of the mold-making process begins at a local New Hampshire sawmill where Eric meticulously searches for a good deal on Pine wood. Eric’s baskets are made only from Cherry and Black Ash. But as I’ve been told, pine is great for molds. It’s less expensive then hardwoods and sands quickly and easily. Usually, he ends up purchasing an “odd Lot” filled with different-sized wood. It means more work for him, but it helps save money and keep the costs of his kits for his customers and students as low as possible. (We both like that!)
After he sorts all the wood in the workshop, he then prepares the wood for “glue-up.” This involves fusing multiple pieces of wood together which makes the finished product, or mold, more stable and less likely to “check” or crack. The wood he was working on yesterday had many areas that needed to be cut out. So he trims the bad edges of the boards and removes all unworkable sections. Strips are then cut to the width that he needs for the particular mold size.
These strips of Pine are then glued together one piece at a time into one tall, solid block. He uses a nifty glue roller that applies a nice even coat of glue down the length of the board (I tried it a couple times but left running from that glue smell!) He simply stacks one board on top of the next as quick as possible. Once all the boards are evenly coated and stacked, it’s time for the clamps. Ensuring even pressure, he attaches many large wood clamps that will tighten the wood together. He slowly turns the clamps until the glue starts to squeeze out. Then they sit.
In three or four hours, the block will be ready for the planer. I’ll get him to do a post on the planing in the near future (probably well after Stateline convention in Indiana).