Saturday, November 27, 2010

Basketweaving Essentials with Nadine Spier

Nadine Spier is internationally known for her work in pine needle coiling, and also as an artist who teaches. Living in California, which is something of a pine needle coiling “capital,” Nadine runs an active studio, teaching weaving techniques and selling supplies. Her latest venture is a DVD teaching her techniques for pine needlers, “Basketweaving Essentials with Nadine Spier.”

This is a professionally produced video, and it is a polished product. Two cameras are used, and that means we can see both Nadine’s lovely face and close-ups of her skilled hands. Wonderful!

She begins by describing the materials; not only pine needles, but other materials that can be grown or found and used to make baskets. The list is enough to stimulate, but I note that the pine needles covered were those I consider “rare,” and not available to me in the Eastern US. No matter. With today’s internet, it is easy enough to find alternatives. Nadine highlights the materials she has best access to; who can blame her? Some of the pine needles she mentions are available for purchase on her website under “supplies.”

Nadine is an accomplished and confident teacher. Her delivery is smooth, and filled with examples and explanations that make the technique easy to remember. Having coiled, myself, for over ten years, I was pleased to learn new tips and see how a master teaches, and admit there are tips and tricks here I want to experiment with.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may know that I am all for finding your own way to coil. One of the things that all basketweavers struggle with is repetitive motion injuries. To make coiling ergonomic, and to make it faster and easier, I advocate putting the needle into the work from the front. But Nadine, in her own unique way, manages to make BOTH sides of the basket “the front!”

She also advocates using specific hand positions and carefully teaches these in a precise way that appears quite successful. If you have ever seen work by one of Nadine’s students, it is obvious that her techniques work very well.

This DVD covers: selecting and preparing materials for coiling, items that can be used for the center of the basket, setting a cabochon for coiling, starting on the cabochon, several stitches (including a wrapped coil,) transitioning between stitches, setting beads between rows, finishing the basket, and starting on alternative centers.

Nadine’s style typically features set-in semi-precious stones, wrapped rows and floating coils. Of these three elements, only the floating coil is left for another DVD. (Which I understand is coming…)

The DVD is broken into “chapters,” which means not only is the information organized in a clear and understandable way, but since you can select scenes from the menu, it is possible to stop/start without going through areas that you have already covered. Don’t you just love DVDs? Nadine’s fabulous sculptural weavings are shown throughout between “chapters.” There is also a “gallery” section with even more of her unique pieces. Definitely inspiring!

As this is a DVD, it requires a DVD player/TV combo, or may be played on your computer if you have a DVD player. It will not work in a CD player in a computer. I found it much easier to see the close-up work on my computer than on the TV. (If you are SURE you have a DVD player in your computer and it STILL won't play this DVD, you probably need a MPEG2 player. I did. Try the free download of Media Player Classic at . At less than 2 MB, it downloaded fast, and is "no frills," but it worked beautifully for me!)

I am confident that you will enjoy adding this DVD to your library, even if you are an experienced coiler or teacher. It is available on, or through her website, , and costs $39.99. There is a free clip of Nadine’s DVD on her website, check it out!

If you have a new basketmaking instructional media, like a book or DVD, I am happy to review it for you. Please contact me by email for address to send a non-returnable copy for review!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Special for Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Some stores are open for Black Friday shopping now even on Thanksgiving! Amazing! Not out shopping? Maybe you already have been, but are back home? No need to feel left out!

All this weekend, now until Tuesday, November 30th, I will be having a special sale in my Etsy shops:

10% off to blog readers, all items included. This includes items already on sale. To receive this sale, you MUST enter a coupon code when you purchase your item(s.) When checking out, enter the code: ireadyourblog

Your 10% will be automatically deducted before you pay!

Happy Black Friday! Hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ready for Thanksgiving?

It's coming right up! Have you woven a cornucopia yet? They are fast and fun, and oh so sculptural! You still have time! You can do it, i know you can!

Why not try Susi Nuss' free online tutorial? Susi has coded us a great FREE pattern! Susi has lots of great features on her website, and while you are there, make sure you click on the ads on the edges, that's how she supports her site...your clicks are pennies of appreciation! (It's THE go-to site for basketmakers, you know.)

For weaving the cornucopia, you can use reed, or try gathering vines from your yard. (Make sure you know what is poison ivy, though!) You won't need to soak green fresh vines, and they will shrink a little, but oh what fun! This cornucopia was woven with wisteria, some of which was split and appears white; and Carolina Jasmine. I left the leaves on the jasmine, and they will wilt and then dry, and form lovely textural interest. Both vines have tiny roots tendrils that give lovely textural accent as well.

Then fill with gourds, vegetables and fruits, nuts, cranberries (here is a how-to for filling) and have a great holiday!

After Thanksgiving, don't put it away (if it is green, it will still be drying!) Try filling with candy or maybe little wrapped presents, holly leaves or silk poinsettia leaves...the possibilities are endless!

If you don't want to weave one yourself, i still have a few in my etsy shop, ready to ship!

Happy Thanksgiving!