Dunbar Gardens has finally hung our shingle out on Facebook. We have created a page and are looking for “fans”. Katherine and I are already Facebook members, but the DG page just went up. I have already uploaded a photo album of willow baskets by Katherine. I aim to keep the page updated with our events and links. There is a discussion tab where I encourage people to post questions and experiences about growing basketry willows, willow basketry, and basketmakers. Our wall is open for contributions. So if you are using Facebook check us out at Dunbar Gardens.
Katherine Lewis will be teaching a two day “Introduction to fitching” class at the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild annual Spring retreat. The dates for next year’s retreat are March 24 – 28, 2010. Katherine’s class will be offered on Thursday and Friday, March 25 & 26 with a limit of ten students. So if you’re interested, you’ll need to keep an eye out for the retreat brochure. By the way, you have to be a member of the group to attend. All the info is at their website.
In the class, students will weave a solid base on a hoop frame, and then scallom on half the stakes and bye-stake the rest into the waling. This will allow enough stakes to learn fitching without spending all day scalloming! We’ll fitch around the basket twice; giving weavers plenty of practice learning this technique. The basket is finished with more waling, a 5-rod border and handle to make a beautiful oval shopper. Everyone will leave with a finished basket because Katherine plans her class time so that all students are able to finish the project in class. However this class is only recommended for weavers with experience with willow.
Katherine has donated this willow bicycle basket to a benefit auction for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, “advocates for a bike-friendly Washington”. She was asked to donate by Liz McNett Crowl the coordinator of Skagit County Physical Activity Coalition. Nothing makes a bike more friendly than a basket! (I guess that means we’re advocating for friendly bikes in a bike friendly place.)
Katherine has been working on her version of a basket to attach to the front handle bars. She decided an oval shape would work best for a variety of handles and front cables. She has woven it with four slots to give some flexibility on how it is attached. It comes equipped with two adjustable straps with quick release buckles which makes it convenient to remove from the bike.
She also put two side loops on the basket for attaching an adjustable shoulder strap. You can remove the basket from the bike and conveniently carry it with you into a store or library, for example. The base, stakes, and border are made from peeled ‘buff’ willow which makes it fairly light weight. The side can be woven from one of the attractive colors of willow we grow; in this case a nice red.
When shopping for a bike basket, pay close attention to the number of stakes in the basket, and how the border is attached. There are a lot of cheaply made wicker baskets being sold for bicycles.
Better to buy a well made willow basket that can be a friend for life.
“Harvesting the Skagit” is Katherine’s entry to the upcoming exhibit “Paint Me A River! Art Meets History” at the Skagit County Historical Museum in La Conner. The museum asked local artists to submit pieces that reflected their personal interpretation of some facet of local history. This exhibit with over 75 original works rendered in paint, glass, bronze, neon, photography, basketry, and multi-media, reveal the wide variety of interesting, amusing and surprising responses that Skagit history can inspire.
Katherine based the form on a traditional tulip bulb harvest basket which was about a bushel and a half size round basket with side handles. She used a variety of colors to showcase the diversity of willows that we have brought here to grow on our farm.
I was able to persuade Katherine to let me take a few photos while she was weaving this basket. Normally she doesn’t care for me and the camera while she is working.
The exhibit opening is Saturday, October 10, 4-7 pm with wine, hors d’oeurves, live music, and a chance to meet the artists. The Museum is at 501 South 4th Street, at the top of the hill, in historic La Conner, WA.
This past weekend Katherine was at the farm of our friends Eddie and Todd Gordon as part of the annual Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms. Every year about a dozen farms in the valley host an open house for visitors to enjoy and explore the diversity of our farm community. Katherine has been doing a willow basketmaking demonstration at Gordon Skagit Farm the past five years. It’s a real family event and Katherine spends a lot of time talking to inquisitive children, especially the girls.
Eddie Gordon has invited a number of his friends to participate in the event to make it both fun and educational. Besides Katherine doing a basketry demo, there is Adair Orr doing some blacksmithing, helped out by his partner Missy Holland and his father Frank Orr. Julie Blazek sets up with honey bee info. Then there are goodies like hot cider and baked goods by the La Conner school culinary program run by Georgia Johnson.
Of course, the real draw is the fabulous variety of pumpkins, squash, and gourds that the Gordons grow and display so well. It’s a great spot to run into friends as well, like my friends Vicki and Randy who have a farm down in Silvana. They were checking out some of the unusual squash for their own table or perhaps to add to their list of produce they produce for their CSA someday.
That’s the head pumpkin getting a quick chat in with Katherine. Thanks Eddie.