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!


1 comment:

branch manager said...

Thanks for this great review. I've been looking at the dvd wondering if I should invest.