Sunday, January 9, 2011

White oak basket

Saturday my fiber guild held a workshop on making white oak baskets with artisan Clyde Jenkins.  He supplies Colonial Williamsburg with colonial-style baskets but makes other types, too -- all from white oak he cuts and splits himself.  In the summer he can often be found teaching workshops at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park.

The supplies for the workshop were very basic.  He brought 6-feet or so of the lower trunk of a 6"-diameter white oak tree which he'd cut down a few days ago.  The trunk had been split into quarters lengthwise and Jenkins spent the first part of the workshop telling us how he chooses the oak and teaching us to split the wood into weavers -- the pieces we'd use to weave over-and-under the ribs of the basket.

I was looking forward to this workshop because I've always wanted to weave a basket but I can't believe how much I enjoyed the whole process!  We started at 9 and I finished lacing the last strip around the rim by 3 (we had a delicious working lunch of vegetable soup and crusty bread thoughtfully provided by a couple of members) yet returned home wishing I had another piece of white oak to work on.  I especially liked the combination of the smell of the fresh wood and the feel of the wood as I'd find the ring line and pull it apart into thinner and thinner weavers.   When it came time to go home, I couldn't stand to put my water bottle and tools back in my canvas bag -- I had a new basket that was just waiting to be filled...


alke said...

That's lovely!
Nice that you already could fulfill a dream in 2011!
May the rest of the year continue in this spirit

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...

Thank you -- That is a nice wish for the new year!

A Brush with Color said...

I made a basket once years ago and it WAS fun--this is beautiful, Carolyn, but I wouldn't have expected otherwise from you. Cracks me up--is there anything you don't try?! You're an inspiration.