Katherine sets up her display at MoNA Style
Katherine just participated in MoNA Style 2010. The Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, WA hosts an annual wearable art show and sale featuring clothing, jewelry, and items for the home. This year’s event featured forty Northwest artists as well as a cafe and fashion shows at local restaurants. The event is one of the fundraisers for the museum each year. This year’s silent auction theme was “Lingerie”. There was a variety of work in ceramics, fiber, metal, and painting. At the end of last year’s show the theme was announced and Katherine decided to create a piece.
Katherine’s goal was to make the piece only with willow, which she did except the small amount of thread used in sewing the skirt. There are several different willows used with the natural colors of green, red, and orange. The skirt is made from willow bark which was cut into strips and sewn to a bark waist band which is attached to the top with bark also. The corset part has bark strips to tie it together in the back. The front uses a colorful zig zag weave while the sides were woven with a fitching technique for an open look. The photo above of Katherine with her work was taken by friend and ceramist Dinah Steveni. Below is a slide show of images of the work from several sides and details taken by Steve.
“We found your website while looking for some willow baskets for a display. We were hoping that you might be interested in bidding on our project.Please let us know as promptly as possible if you are interested” read the email that we received on a Friday afternoon. On Monday Katherine sent back a list of questions and arranged to speak by telephone that afternoon. That’s when the project coordinator told Katherine, “My boss said, ‘This is just a mom and pop business. They’re not going to get back to you.’” But Ann had responded, “Sure they will, this is how they make their living.” Mom & Pop on the internet selling their wares and services have to be ready to respond to potential jobs, especially in the current economy.
Spaeth Designs in New York City has built a reputation on window displays. They are known for the animatronic windows that they produce for stores like Saks Fifth Ave and NBC in NYC and Marshall Fields in Chicago. They also do special events and promotions. The job they contacted Katherine about is one involving some hot air balloons. They needed a basketmaker to make replicas of four balloon baskets of different sizes. They had some drawings done but not really the details.
On Tuesday, Katherine soaked up some willow and went about weaving a sample basket. Later in the day, she told me that we needed to get some photos done and emailed by the end of the day. The Spaeth crew was meeting with their client the next morning and needed photos of the sample and a price quote before the meeting. So I got out the camera and opened up the Photoshop while Katherine worked the bid. Wednesday afternoon we heard the boss was surprised we managed to get the sample photos sent, but also that the project is over budget. So they aren’t sure what is going to be kept in the final display. “We’ll let you know by the middle of next week at the latest.” Ironically, we are still waiting for a reply at week’s end. Must be their client’s fault. You know those big retailers never get back to you on time.
Post script: To save cost they decided to make solid boxes with “a covering of some sort”. They did say, “We want to thank you for being right and ready to hop on the project at a moments notice…” Maybe a future project will come our way.
Have you checked out the NBO’s website? The organization has a new look after celebrating ten years as a non-profit promoting basketry. The website has been updated and one of the features is an extensive calendar of events. Susi Nuss of Basketmakers.com is a new board member of the NBO and she has been bringing her extensive internet networking to work on the events listing. The group states its mission as promoting the art, skill, heritage, and education of traditional and contemporary basketry. Members receive the quarterly newsletter which always profiles artisans working in basketry. Katherine recently renewed her membership. But anyone can visit the website and keep up to date on workshops, conferences and basketry events across the country; as well as enjoy the gallery of basket photos.
February 1 is celebrated as Saint Brigid’s Day in Ireland. It is also the Celtic celebration of Imbolc, the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Some people consider it the beginning of spring. Like many holidays, the Pagan and Christian myths have mixed over the years. Brigid was a goddess of the Pagans who considered her the goddess of healing, inspiration, and craftsmanship. It is said that Saint Brigid was named after her. Brigid of Kildare became one of Ireland’s patron saints.
There is a legend that she made a cross from rushes she found on the ground to convert a dying man to Christianity. Some say that the cross represents the cycles of nature, and was a way for the Celts to keep the traditions of their ancestors alive while being forced to convert to the new religion. Regardless of the truth, these Saint Brigid’s crosses woven from rushes or straw became a popular symbol in homes. Each year on February 1, people would weave a new cross to hang in their house above the door or in the rafters to protect the home from fire and disease. The ritual also involved burning the previous year’s cross.
Katherine made the Saint Brigid’s cross in the photo for our house today with some small willow pieces. I found a youtube video of an Irish woman demonstrating how to make one from rushes here.