Thanks so much to Jeannie and Donna for their comments on the last post.
We are almost finished with this series, but i must address the use of “starts."
Starting a basket from nothing, or making a button, can be time consuming. Many people today have never made their own basket start. Though button-building is something I think every basketmaker should definitely learn, the use of prepared, commercial starts is a wonderful way for novice basketmakers to be introduced to coiling.
Because button-making is challenging, it is not optimal as the first lesson a student must learn. Historically, apprentices a huge amount of time observing and doing menial tasks before being allowed to try their hand at a craft. Today’s students walk into a class with a desire to make something, and the expectation that it will be made quickly and with little anguish. For these students, it is better to build proficiency in handling pine needles and understanding the basic processes of coiling, the mechanics of how the basket is built, BEFORE the student attempts a button start. Once competence is achieved at maintaining coil size, adding materials (binder and core) and basic stitching, it is easier to turn to the complexities of making a basket out of “thin air,” that is turning a pile of pine needles and thread into a basket. So for speed and ease of use, I recommend use of a basketry start for beginners.
When learning to make a button basket, or a basket "from nothing," i have found the best way to learn to make a button is to focus on only that skill. Work on the button ONLY, until the technique is mastered. A student with several successful baskets under her belt will be more able to focus on the task at hand, without worrying about "what comes next." When i teach this skill, allot 2 hours, and encourage students to make at least 2 buttons AFTER they feel like they have mastered the technique. This provides the added bonus of having three baskets "ready to coil."
I would love to hear how you feel about making buttons and using basketry starts. Next post will be on different kinds of prepared basketry starts. Please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks