Pictured on the left is Carolyn Abbey of Willow Pond Basketry. On
the right are two of her weaving friends Dawn McCready of Elyria and Wanetta
Fruner of Oberlin, OH.
Since you were all so patient with my automated e-mail reply message during the holidays, I would like to share the basketry part of my trip.
In Ft. Myers, FL, I met Eileen Loro. She was most friendly and showed me her studio in her home, introduced me to her husband and her chatty pet bird and we had a delightful time looking at her baskets and talking weaving and about the shop she had had in MN.
After our visit at her home, she chauffeured me north
to Nokomis where we had lunch on the outdoor veranda of a quaint little
place called "Pop's." Not only did Pop have good food, he had a wonderful
gift shop that now has one less tiger mask painted on coconut root than
it did. Pop's is on Albee Road, around the corner from Sue Cooper's
Woven Spirit Basketry.
After lunch, when our well-fed selves arrived at Woven Spirit, Sue was enjoying a quiet time at the shop and weaving
a basket. Her shop was stocked with all the essential basketry items and more. Along with supplies, she had
consignment baskets on display and samples of baskets to be taught at the upcoming classes. We wandered
around in the large, bright studio where her classes are taught as she told us about the instructors who are
scheduled to teach through the winter and spring. Instructors will include Judy Brisco, Nathan Taylor, Martha
Wetherbee, and former shop owner, Joann Page among others. On Friday mornings, local weavers are invited to
bring whatever they are working on at the time and meet at Woven Spirit to weave, help each other, and
visit throughout the morning.
Of course, Eileen and I bought some things! Along
with a poster, a pattern, and some cute basket notes, I acquired the
instructions for a really cute little reindeer ornament woven from 1/4" flat reed and a book titled "New Lashings and Improvements to Old Favorites" by Billy Malone. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn God's eyes.
The instructions and illustrations were so easy to follow that a couple of days later, when holiday festivities had settled down, I couldn't wait to try them. I made a Ben Franklin run to get 1/4' reed and some hexagonal hoops to try the God's eyes, never thinking about how I was going to get home three 12" hexagonal hoops (the only size they had) tied in a big ball with God's eyes on every joint where they crossed.
On my last night in Ft. Myers, my daughter and son-in-law took me to Ft. Myers Beach where my daughter directed me out on the long pier to a lady who was weaving bowls from coconut leaves. As I watched her adeptly weave half a frond into a bowl, she told me her name is Claudia and that her husband climbs the trees to get just the right leaves for her, always respecting the health of the tree.
She said that her husband had learned to weave the hats and baskets while growing up in the Carribean and had taught her. She shared that she has studied fine arts and had even traveled to Bali to study silversmithing. While I was watching and hoping to purchase the finished bowl, the person to whom it had been promised came to claim her order. Even though it was nearly dark, Claudia offered to make another and deliver it to me at the end of the pier where we were having dinner. I thank her for this; it will always be not only a treasured possession but a fond memory of my visit and my acquaintance with Claudia.
These pictures show the bowl when it was fresh and green. As time has gone by, the bowl is slowly drying and will eventually turn light brown. Claudia said that it could be made to turn dark brown overnight by placing it in the freezer for a few hours and it would then lighten more slowly.
If you are ever in south Florida, watch for Claudia Mayer at craft fairs or look for her outside the gift shop on Ft. Myers Beach pier swiftly creating her coconut leaf treasures. You may also contact her by writing P.O. Box 6535, Ft. Myers, FL 33931 or phoning her at (941) 463-2453.
I thank Eileen for her friendship and company,
Sue for her welcome and help at Woven Spirit, and Claudia for sharing her
talent. I'm looking forward to seeing all these folks again on my next
trip. And I thank my daughter Hallie and son-in-law Scott for their hospitality,
for taking me to Ft. Myers Beach and for putting up with reed draped around
From Mindy Lower:
My husband and I traveled to Nantucket Island this past summer. The island is filled with history about the whaling industry of which it was the major center back in the 1800's. All the houses, new and old, are made in the style of the old homes from that time. The streets are very narrow and the tiny yards are filled with beautiful flowers. It was recommended that we not take our car, but we did take our bikes.
We visited many of the basketmakers' shops and saw many beautiful Nantucket baskets. One of the top basketmakers is selling his purses for three thousand to four thousand dollars with a two year wait and his nesting sets are going for $16,000. They were beautiful baskets with tiny-tiny staves. The ivory carvings and scrimshaw add a lot of cost to the basket, but they also add much to th e beauty of the baskets.
In the evening you would see many people out on the streets carrying
their Nantucket purses. I learned a lot from visiting the different workshops
and from looking at the different baskets. I purchased a new 16" oval mold
which I'm excited to try. Besid es the traditional baskets, we saw baskets
made into baby cradles, mirrors, clocks, and many other shapes. I loved
the island and found everything fascinating.
From Linda Clifton in New Cumberland, PA
I want to report on my basket making vacation and thought some of the information would be helpful to others.
I became a hooked basket weaver about 5 years ago when we were camping at Cook Forest State Park, PA in Northwestern PA. In the park there is a Sawmill Arts and Crafts Center where they offer many craft classes throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. Ruth Emberg, of Bachemberg Baskets, 207 Cherry Street, Marienville, PA 16239, taught an Egg Basket class which I attended. This was my first introduction to basket weaving and I was hooked long before lunch that day. My family allowed me to change our plane tickets we had for the next night to another night, with not such good seats, so I could attend Ruth's Wall Basket class. Ruth Emberg is not the only teacher who is there on a regular basis, however she is the only teacher whose classes I have attended. I have seen the work of the other regular teachers and all are top notch.
At least once a year since then, I think, we have gone to the forest and I have planned the trip around the scheduled basket classes at the Sawmill. This year the Sawmill schedule and mine would just not mesh. So I called and arranged a class with Ruth at her shop in Marienville. I spent the better part of two days with her and returned home with a lovely twill bowl and so many tips that no one has ever put in a book, and most importantly the friendship of one beautiful lady.
If anyone is looking for a beautiful area to do some weaving I reccommend the Cook Forest Sawmill Arts and Craft Center, Cooksburg, PA and all of their staff.
Ruth Emberg will schedule classes for one or more at her shop if you just give her a call at 814-927-6999. Pat Yunkis (who also teaches at the Sawmill) also has a shop in the area and will do classes at her shop as well. I have not had the pleasure of one of Pat's classes but her work is lovely! I do not have her phone number but I am sure it could be obtained from the Sawmill Center.
Thanks for letting me share my basket vacation and Happy Weaving.
If you would like to share your basket vacation here, contact Baskets,
Etc. for information on how to submit it.
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