“Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.”
My original pine-needle basketry honors the beauty in nature which often goes unnoticed. I try to commit nature’s delicate patterns to lasting form through the intricate stitches I use to make hand-coiled baskets, translating nature’s colorful language into art you can hold in your hands.
I use natural materials to capture the patterns I see in nature. Therefore, it’s natural for me to work with earth material and earth designs.
To make my baskets, I work with long-standing traditional methods. After autumn storms, I gather clean, green needles from fallen branches of the Ponderosa Pine. The needles must be long and strong; I dry them away from the elements.
Inspired by local landscapes, numerous species of colorful birds that inhabit southern Oregon, and geometric patterns, I carefully plan each basket, using a grid to design the pattern.
Once the design is planned and the needles are prepared, I begin with a small bunch of needles, stitching them into a coil shape. As I sew, I add needles, one at a time, to the existing bundle. I continuously wrap 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 the work. I repeat this process continually, changing the raffia color as necessary to express the pattern I’ve created.
Although these beautiful raw materials add beauty and durability to my baskets, it is patience that gives them their strength. I often spend up to 45 hours sculpting a large basket. When I make a basket, 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.
Careful planning, attention, and devotion are worked into each stitch of my baskets. The result is beautiful, and tangible, works of art.