Site icon Billy Ray Sims Basketmaker

Lessons from the Past

potato basket
Potato Basket

21″ x 21″ x 9″

Rib-work construction; hand-split white oak

There are few basket makers who work with white oak.  It’s labor intensive—this basket required hand splitting the good part of two small oak trees—and most of those with the know-how are getting on in years.

Although I’ve been blessed to learn from several master basket makers, the teacher for this basket died long ago.  It’s an interpretation of a Pennsylvania field basket likely made in the late 19th century.  As I learned by trial and error how to carve, whittle and bend the big ribs of the basket you see here, I marveled at evidence of how the original was created by sure and confident hands.  And I felt perhaps some old boy was looking down on me from above, and smiling as I carried forward lessons from his work.

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