Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Great Baskets

It has been awhile since I have had basket photos to post, and Waldena Hendrix has saved the day! These lovely baskets were made by Waldena, using bases from my etsy shop, MakeABasket.

Here is what Waldena had to say about these baskets:

The asymmetrical one is my first try at a non-traditional shape. I was inspired by other baskets shown on your blog and the pineneedlegroup. I just decided to bend the coil in an odd direction and see where it led me.

I created the pink one because your basket starter was such a great match to the fusha and plum needles I purchased from artgalstudio on Etsy. It's kind of Easter-y.

I like to network with other coilers.

I really appreciate your blog and the pineneedlegroup. It keeps me inspired to improve my work.


Well, thank YOU, Waldena! I love that you are branching out and trying new things.

I absolutely cannot believe the vibrant color in those fuschia pine needles! Everyone will be running over there to get some.

I also really enjoy the asymmetrical shape on the brown one, would love to see another view of that, with the pattern on the base visible. It is such a cute little shape, too.

If you have a basket made with one of my pottery bases that you would like to share, please send me a picture!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mushroom Update

It has been about 24 hours since I put up the little plastic guards around my wild mushrooms. It rained pretty hard last night. Look how much they have grown! Already they are turning much more orange. This is the little one!

I think some dirt is still being thrown up onto the fungus within the plastic sleeve, but obviously it is working a little, because there is all kinds of dirt on the outside of the sleeve, too.

It also appears to be growing just the way it wants to, it is not avoiding pressing into the sides of the barrier.

So exciting!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mushroom Time!

Any mushroom hunters out there? Here is the pride of my mushroom hunting career!

This is a Chicken Polypore Mushroom, and I found it (and ate it) in June of 2008. I had seen the same fruiting body (yes, like a piece of fruit or flower, they come back to the same place repeatedly) several years before. I wanted to collect and eat it then, but my husband would not let me, telling me i did not know enough about collecting wild mushrooms. Eventually that year, the enormous colorful fungus was crushed by a 4-Wheeler, and went to waste!

I began gathering research to make SURE i had properly identified this fabulous hard-to-find and highly prized edible so that the NEXT time it popped up, i would be ready. It happened in 2008, as i said, and it was delicious. This gorgeous specimen was approximately 10" across, and took me several weeks to eat (all by myself.) It really did have a little bit of a meaty, chicken-like flavor. Full bodied and wonderful.

The only complaint i had was that it had been growing on the ground on a path. Most of the time, these fungi are hard to find because they grow up in the trees. This one was growing on the root of a White Oak tree, and since it was in the path, as people (or animals or rain) came by, little bits of dirt and leaf litter were tossed up onto the surface of this delicate fruiting body. Because the fungus grows every day, the dirt was encased by edible flesh. Unfortunately, i ended up scraping large areas that were obviously embedded with detrius as i cooked it. I resolved to myself that i would not let this happen next time!

Guess what i saw today while walking the dogs....

Not one, but TWO Chicken Polypore Mushrooms!

These have been growing for several days, but are not ready to harvest yet. There is already a little coating of sand, but i have brushed back the leaf litter. I admit, i saw them yesterday, but did not realize they would grow this quickly. We have had alot of rain (compared to previous years) this year. I had meant to make a protective sheild yesterday, and forgot. Not so today!

I cut a gallon jug in half and made two soft plastic shields.

My son helped me nail the shields in place around the fungi.

This is the bigger of the two mushrooms. As you can see, i had to lift and compress the flesh of the growth a little in order to get this gallon container over it. I did see some brusing on the flesh. I am interested to see what will happen with this one, but as there is a second, i am feeling like it is worth the experiment.

Both mushrooms have little fences around them. I am hoping they will grow taller, and be able to "avoid" the plastic. I also hope that any people or animals walking there will both not step on them, and will not kick up dirt onto the surface. I don't know if it will help with splashing by the's an experiment!

Now the waiting and watching game. When these turn beautifully orange with a thin white border on the edge, like this one from two years ago, i think they will be ready to eat. It will be interesting to see if my husband will join me in this deliciacy this year...but i don't care! I am ready, willing and very able to eat it all myself.

If you have experience with, or suggestions about this process, please let me know!

If you are interested in hunting, collecting and eating wild mushrooms, please be careful. There is alot of information about it online, but i recommend a good book to carry with you. The book i use is the Smithsonian Handbook of Mushrooms. It has wonderful color pictures, and includes edibility information, including if the mushrooms can be mistaken for inedible (or poisonous) ones.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Painting Day

Please check out the new blog by Ruth Andre, A Painting Day.

If you are a basketmaker, you may remember Ruth's coiled gourd weavings. Having mastered fiber, Ruth has moved to 2d art, and has been building her career as a successful painter for several years now.

Ruth's incredible sense of color and design is of course beautifully manifested in her paintings. She creates wonderful images of animals and nature. I particularly love her horse paintings!

In this first post of her new blog, she shares her painting of the neighbor's spring apple tree, laden with blossoms. What will she paint next? I can't wait to see!

To see even more of her work, visit her website at .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Don'tcha Love Spring?

Spring at my house. Just enjoying it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wisteria Hysteria

I just love this wonderful Cuff by Waterrose. It shows, to me, the best part of SPRING! Wisteria Hysteria!

Spring has sprung and pollen coats the world. Here in Carolina, there is sneezing...our cars are dusted yellow-green. The pollen dims our windows, colors our streets and makes chalky puddles.

Each day i walk my dogs through in the woods, and each day is magical... but today the lacey layer of dogwood trees is a veil, blossoming under the oak and sweetgum and pine. Yellow spirals garnish the trees, and bouquet from the ground where the Carolina Jasmine and forsythia flower. There is a feeling of approaching festivity as we stroll, crushing white and yellow blossoms underfoot. Little pink winged maple seeds scatter the forest floor, tiny shed fairy wings. The wind is high, and gradually, lavender flowers sprinkle among the yellow and white and pink, as we go farther into the trees to find the crowning glory: the great violet temple of drooping wisteria!

It has climbed into the highest parts of the trees, and drapes them from top to bottom in glorious shades of lavender, purple, white, brilliant chartreuse and tender greens; a living waterfall of blossoms, on all sides of the paths. The heavy scent overwhelming, even with the wind gusseting. It is a setting for a fairy wedding... and all i can thinks is: Oh what baskets it will make! Spring has come again to North Carolina!

Wisteria is one of my favorite weaving materials. It is flexible and sends out long runners. It can be used at any time of year (more on that later.) But, best of all, it is considered an invasive pest and many people want it GONE. See how it chokes these trees? No wonder.

But that is partly what makes it so great for weaving...Here it is in a sculptural basket

This is one of the most flexible of vines, even larger pieces can be used in rib baskets as weavers (bend around your finger without cracking!) One strand can render 4 or more weavers - split and then peeled. This also gives you two colors - white and bark - for variation. Here is a cornucopia made with split wisteria

The bark is strong and can be peeled in long pieces. It can be bundled and coiled

(Or used as a binder,) and makes a great lasher for a rim!

Use the half-round split wisteria for the rim itself! The bark is great for twining in fibrous baskets, and the inner white bark can be used as thread for stitching, or spun into lovely cordage.

Now is the time to find your wisteria for weaving.

Grab your camera and a notebook and go for a drive. Wisteria is so easy to find now because of the showy purple blossoms.

Some wisteria is white (rare) and often you will see it growing in people's yards, like here in my friend Alan's yard.

When you see a meticulously coiffed bush such as this, it is certainly worth admiring. But there is no point in attempting collection from a plant like this. Since the new growth is trimmed so often, any runners, even if they grow long, will not be mature enough to weave with.

Easier to spot is the purple variety. See if you can see the wisteria growing in the trees on this ride with me.

(it's on that big tree ahead on the left, click the photo to make it bigger...same for below)

When you see it somewhere, take note of where and how it grows. There is often a tree that it has climbed up into, and you will see it hanging. But then, off to the side, you see it peeking out of a bush, or growing on a fence. Take a photo to help you remember where it is. Then you can find out whose property it is and get permission to collect. Overgrown homesteads like this often offer an abundance.

It is not a good idea to pull this stuff down from the might pull down a tree with it, on your head! This time of year, with the flowers, there will be bees buzzing, and birds nesting in it's shelter. There will be snakes waking up and looking for food. Although, for baskets, it is possible to collect in the spring, it is not optimal. If you HAVE to have wisteria now, look for the runners on the ground BETWEEEN two places where the wisteria has climbed. If you have to disturb the duff to find these, again, you might want to wait until cold times when ground nesting bees will not be so easily disturbed.

Summertime is not a good time for collecting either, unless you are sure you are getting the mature runners. You don't want freshly running green pieces, they are not strong. Wait until the pieces you want have a slightly rough bark (not a skim of smooth bark) on them for the best weavers.

The time to collect vines is Autumn and winter. But by then,it is hard to find, unless you took photos and made notes when the flowers were up. In the Fall and Winter, the insects are becoming (or have become) dormant. Foliage has dropped and snakes are sleeping. This is the time to DIG DOWN into the dirt and really find great runners. If you have permission to clip out of trees, you can do that, too, but be very careful when pulling down not to bring a tree down on your head!

Please check back to Waterrose's etsy shop, she hopes to soon have more wisteria items! I want a little card with embroidered wisteria to put in my remember my favorite part of spring!

Looking for a great little notebook to keep your basket journal in? Check out WeeBindery for journals worth keeping!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Beautiful Baskets by Lynda Esto

More beautiful coiled baskets!

These are by Lynda Esto, who lives in Florida. Lovely baskets, Lynda.

Lynda used pottery starts from my shop to begin these baskets...but she obviously went on to give them her personal flair. Great job!

I love seeing baskets made with my pottery bases. If you have baskets to share made with pottery bases you got from me, and would like to share your photos, please email them to me!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter Basket

Welcome Easter, the most basket-y holiday!

I dug out my Easter baskets this morning, did you? Or are baskets still a part of your everyday life?

Might as well use them, I have so many!

There are baskets i have woven and baskets other people i know wove. Baskets that came from Wal-Mart, or were given to me with gifts in them.

There was a time when every home was filled with baskets, because they were so necessary and so used.

I want to know: does the average home still brim with baskets?
Does yours?

I think at Easter time they do! This beautiful hand-painted (and hand woven of course) Easter basket was given to my second child at his birth by a local basketmaker known for her lovely painted inserted strips. What a beautiful little heritage basket!

We need more than one fancy colored basket to put on the table with all the kids' goodies. This one i just wove at the last NCBA Convention. It was empty this year, the Easter Bunny will be instructed to FILL THIS ONE UP! It is big.

We need the large baskets to hold all the eggs that are to be hidden in the yard.

We need the handled deep baskets used for gathering the eggs.
So why, with all these lovely baskets around, do my children end up prefering plastic grocery bags for their egg hunts?
So they can move faster!
geesh. And climb higher without spilling! We do have some hunts requiring a little atheticism!I guess we are as guilty as the next person...dependence on plastics is not a good thing.

You can't blame me for giving the dog a plastic bucket for her basket, tho...

Have a great Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fantastic Fibers Exhibition Photos

A few days ago, The Fantastic Fibers Exhibition at the Yeiser Art Center was featured here. I am very pleased to announce the Fantastic Fibers Exhibition at the Yeiser Art Center is now online through Flickr.

In a special email to artists, director Michael Crouse wrote:

Hello Artists,

It is a beautiful day in Paducah with sunny skies and warm temperatures, a perfect day for the Opening Reception for Fantastic Fibers 2010.

The 3 jurors chose the following award winners:

Best of Show: “Kathryn, Kathy, Katie, Kate” by Lora Rocke of Lincoln, Nebraska

Second Place: “Poema a La Flor” by Maximo Laura of Lima, Peru

Third Place: “Live Water” by Susan Leslie Lumsden of Thayer, Missouri

The jurors chose 3 additional works for Juror’s Choice Recognition (no monetary award).

“Volcanic Flower” by David Fraser of Yardley, Pennsylvania
“So Between 2” by Kathe Todd-Hooker of Albany, Oregon
“Earth Form 7” by Cameron Anne Mason of Seattle, Washington

We have posted the exhibition via a Flickr photo website. There you may view sets for the individual accepted works, the award winners, and installation views. To view Fantastic Fibers 2010, please go to:



Congratulations to the winners! I am so pleased to be able to see this wonderful exhibition! I am so honored to be a part of it!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Fiber: Twenty Ten

Fiber: Twenty Ten
Opens today! April 2, 2010, runs through Friday, May 14, 2010 at 5:00pm

Artist Reception
Friday, April 16, 2010 at 6:00pm

The Foundry Art Centre
520 North Main Center
St. Charles, MO

This is a juried exhibition in collaboration with Missouri Fiber Artists (MoFA.)

My piece "Catching the Moon" pieces will be exhibited, the one subtitled "Unfocused." Photo is by Ronald L. Sowers Photography.
Sorry, I will not be able to attend.

additional details see the Foundry Website