Billy Ray Sims Basketmaker

Category: Billy’s Baskets


Bulrush & White Oak

Completed for the Contemporary Greenwood exhibit, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Rockport, Maine , January 2020

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Essex Museum Clam Basket

13 1/2” x  20″ x 16 3/4” White oak on galvanized wire The Essex Shipbuilding Museum (MA) has created a project to replicate a vintage clamming skiff and clam harvest basket. The basket part of the project calls for reproducing…

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Appalachian Egg Basket

11″ x 14″ x 10″ Carved, whittled, woven, rib work construction; hand-split white oak This basket is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum as a gift from Martha G. Ware and Steven R. Cole. It’s based on an Appalachian style known…

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Potato Basket & Mini-Spud

A challenging commission, shown in the foreground, came from a client who wanted a version of the potato basket you can read more about below. But when I informed her how large the original basket is —23″-wide— she asked for…

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Tennessee Feather Basket

12″w x 22″h While visiting the Museum of Appalachia, Norris, TN, and admiring John Rice Irwin’s incomparable collection of handmade Appalachian baskets, I was offered the chance to purchase one from his private collection. My eyes were immediately drawn to…

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Alabama Corn Basket

14″ H x 18″ W This field basket, modeled after one by Vonnie Miller, was quickly made at an annual  gathering of white oak basket makers at Mary Ann and Bill Smith’s home in McCalla, AL. About 10 enthusiasts came…

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Painted Lady

Gizzard Basket 12″ x 12″ x 10 1/2″ Hand-split white oak and reed; milk paint, varnish The handle, hoop, wrap and initial woven splits are white oak. The ribs and bulk of weaving are reed. A gift for a friend…

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White Oak Market Basket

6 1/2″ x 10″ x 7 1/2″ I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working before with Leona Waddell, a wonderful master basketmaker in Cecilia, KY, but this one was something special. It’s a small market basket, similar to larger versions Leona…

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It’s All in the De “tails”

10″ x 10″ x 48″ Here’s a white oak fish trap that was a boatload of fun to make. It’s a replica, with exception of carved heads and tails, of a trap made by old-time South Carolina basket weaver Elbert…

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Lessons from the Past

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…

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White Oak Fish Creel

White Oak Creel 8″x12″x6″ Split-work construction; white oak weaving and quarter-sawn oak lid; saddle leather strap The basket shown is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a gift of Martha G. Ware and Steven R. Cole. It’s made on a mold to…

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Sweetgrass Rice Fanner

2 1/4″ x 16″ x 16″ Coiled and sewn construction; sweetgrass, bulrush, palmetto Some 15 years ago, I lived on an old wooden sailboat on the Stono River just south of Charleston, SC. Newly divorced and in need of healing,…

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Black Ash Pack Baskets

22″ x 13″ x 9″ Woven, split-work construction; hand-split black ash and white oak, saddle leather straps Woven from New Hampshire black ash with white oak rim and handle, this basket was a fun take on the traditional New England…

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