“Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.”
Marie Cole’s original pine-needle basketry is a testament to the delicate beauty in nature, which often goes unnoticed. Marie is a gifted observer, and she commits nature’s delicate patterns to lasting form through her intricate stitches. Through her hand-coiled baskets, Marie captures nature’s colorful language into art we can hold in our hands.
In her baskets, Marie uses natural materials to capture the patterns she sees in nature. It’s natural for me to work with earth material and earth designs, she explains.
Marie enjoys a long-standing tradition in her choice of methods. After autumn storms, she gathers clean, green needles from fallen branches of the Ponderosa Pine. The needles must be long, strong and green and then lets them dry away from the elements.
Marie carefully plans each basket before she begins and uses a grid to design the pattern. They are inspired by local landscapes, numerous species of colorful birds that inhabit southern Oregon and her own beautiful geometric patterns.
Once the design is planned and the needles are prepared, Marie begins with a small bunch of needles that she stitches into a coil shape. As she sews, Marie adds more needles, one at a time, to the existing bundle. She continuously wraps the needles with raffia, a fiber from the leaves of the Madagascar palm tree. Hand dyeing much of the raffia adds to the uniqueness of her work. This process is repeated continually, changing the raffia color as necessary to express the pattern she has created.
Although the exceptional raw materials give beauty and durability to her baskets, it is Marie’s patient touch that gives them their trademark strength. Marie often spends up to 45 hours sculpting a large basket. “When I make a basket”,she says, “I’m focused on making sure the coils are tight. It’s more time-consuming than open-stitch basketry, but it better expresses the designs that excite me.”
Marie’s careful planning, attention, and devotion are apparent in each stitch of her baskets. The result is beautiful, and tangible, works of art.