May newsletter

Dunbar Gardens willow baskets display

News from Dunbar Gardens May 2010

Willow Basketry Classes & Upcoming Events


There is an article about Katherine Lewis, Willow Basketmaker in the latest issue of “Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot”- the quarterly journal of Handweavers Guild of America. The article was written by Sandra Swarbrick who lives nearby on Camano Island and has a long involvement with the HGA. Nice article describing Katherine’s background with basketry, willow, and her teachers.

Katherine is serving as President of the Board for the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild for the coming year.

Upcoming Events

Edmonds Arts Festival: June 18-20, popular festival featuring 240 juried artist exhibitors, music, performing arts, children’s activities, wine bar and bistro in downtown Edmonds on Fathers’ Day weekend. Katherine will be selling her baskets in the Plaza area for traditional arts and crafts.

Anacortes Arts Festival Arts at the Port Juried Exhibition: August 6-8, Opening reception July 30, 5:30-8pm. Exhibition entitled “Next” juried by Esther Luttikhuizen showing a diverse mix of work in fine crafts, painting, sculpture, and photography. Katherine is excited to have four pieces selected for the show.

Nana Queen by Katherine Lewis

Looking ahead: Exploring Baskets: A juried show and sale of work by members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild: December 3- January 29, 2010 at the Depot Arts Center, Anacortes, WA. Katherine is involved in organizing this show and expects an outstanding and diverse exhibit.

Willow Basketmaking Classes with Katherine Lewis

Classes are two days, from 9am to 5pm. Everyone will leave with a finished basket. Class size is limited to 10. Cost is $170 per student which includes materials. Tools will be available to use during the class; and awls, French curved blade knives and locally made rapping irons will be available for purchase. We provide tea and coffee.
There is a registration form on the website. Or you can send us your contact info (name, address, email, telephone) along with a $50 deposit per class session. Last minute sign ups should email for availability. These classes are all in the Mount Vernon area at Dunbar Gardens or just down the road from us at the McLean Road Fire Hall meeting room.

Katherine Lewis basketry class

June 26-27 (Saturday-Sunday): Gathering basket, round or oval laundry basket

Depending on each student’s experience, you can make a round gathering or a laundry basket. The gathering basket starts with a round base made by twining, a sturdy base wale around the sides, English randing for the side weave, and a strong cross handle to complete the basket. The round laundry basket is larger than the gathering basket, taking more hand strength and more time to weave the sides.  It begins with the same twined base and base wale; then students may choose between different side weaves. The laundry basket is completed with two roped side handles. More experienced willow weavers can make an oval laundry or log basket that is also finished with roped handles.

July 13-16: four day in-depth class

This class session is currently filled. Katherine appreciates the positive response for the longer session and will be planning another one in the future.

August 16-17 (Monday-Tuesday): Scallomed projects

This class provides baskets at all weaving levels. We will weave the base on a hoop frame, and scallom on the stakes. The oval shopper is the simplest of the shapes, great for beginners. The magazine basket is a skinny long oval basket with a lengthwise handle, making it great for magazines or books next to your favorite chair. The square basket is great for shopping, and is a chance for those with previous willow experience to learn square shaping and square border corners. Students can choose from a selection of side weaves. Experience with willow is helpful, and comfort using a knife is essential for this class.

Tidal Twinings class

Classes at other locations

May 20-23: Willow basketmaking presentation and class in Portland, Oregon for Columbia Basin Basketry Guild members. Katherine is looking forward to her trip to Portland. She will be giving a presentation to the CBBG on her passion for willow basketry at the regular meeting of the CBBG on the evening of May 20. She will teach a two day class weaving an oval laundry or garden basket May 22-23. Sign up for the class is through the CBBG and Carol Horvath (email:

October 21-23: Tidal Twinings, Columbia Basin Basketry Guild Fall Retreat in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. Katherine will be teaching two classes at the CBBG retreat this year. Willow bicycle basket on Thursday & Friday and a Berry picking basket on Saturday. You can be a member of either the CBBG or the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild to attend this fun event. See their website for details and contact info.

Facebook: Dunbar Gardens has a Facebook page. If you are a Facebook user, become a follower and keep up to date with our activities there. We also invite you to contribute by posting comments, your photos from one of our classes, starting discussions related to willow basketry or willow growing.

For more information about classes, baskets, willow growing, or our farmstand please visit our website.


Katherine & Steve


2010 calendar

2010 Dunbar Gardens calendar cover

The prevalence of digital photography has made it easy to make all kinds of nifty printed gifts. I took advantage of a nice offer at one of the local printers to make a calendar for Dunbar Gardens of Katherine’s willow baskets. The easy part is finding photos of some of the wonderful baskets Katherine has made throughout the year. The hard part is finding good photos that I would like others to be looking at for a month. Most of the baskets have been sold, so there are no second chances for a better shot. Here’s what I came up for this year (click on the thumbnails for a larger view:

January - willow basket purseIrish potato basketpanier a jour - fitched market baskettwo willow storage basketswillow bassinettethree magazine basketsgreen willow hamperwillow picnic hamperharvesting the skagit by Katherine Lewistrivets - willow cooling trayswillow bottle basketthree willow rope coils


Google favorite place

favorite place on google

Dunbar Gardens is a favorite place on Google. Well, at least that is what they told us when they mailed us this decal. Quite a few people did click on our business listing when searching Google maps, but I suspect that they sent these to pretty much any business with a listing. That special bar code in the lower right corner can be scanned with a cell phone camera so that customers can check out our listing, write a review, or add us as a favorite. Of course, if somebody makes out to our farm, I don’t imagine they will be looking at their phone to get the details! Despite my cynicism about many of these internet tools, I like the opportunity presented by Google with these business listings. We’re able to create a listing for free that includes our location, hours, products, and even some photos. Find Dunbar Gardens on Google maps. Have a business? Sign up through a Google account at the “local business center.”


More than food

harvested basketry willow

bundles of basketry willow at Dunbar gardens

Local farms produce more than food

It is great to see the focus on eating local and supporting local farms. The growth of farmers markets, organically grown produce, and the variety of artisan food products are all encouraging signs. But as a farm based business, I hope that people recognize that farms produce more than food products. Farms also grow and harvest fiber crops, lumber, ornamentals, nursery plants, biofuels, and more. We all use and depend on these crops, but are we giving the same thought to where and how they are produced? There is a lot of opportunity to encourage the same support for domestic producers of these non food crops as we are seeing in the “local food” movement.

willow harvestwillow harvest

Many people don’t even think our basketry willow is a farm crop. They imagine us going out and cutting mature willow trees somewhere. One of our goals is to show people the potential of growing a crop like willow on small farms or gardens and using it to craft functional goods. Our small farm is similar to many that use a so called value-added product to get a better return on the energy we invest. Instead of turning milk into cheese, we are turning willow into baskets. Granted that the cheese is a more essential product, but it isn’t unreasonable to suggest that willow farms producing baskets or  sheep ranchers producing wool or even clothing can be part of a local farm economy.

willow harvestwillow harvest

Of course, one of the challenges facing producers of these non-perishable handcrafted items are the low cost alternatives imported from less developed countries. Stores like our local food co-operative are a great source of locally grown farm products, but they also sell inexpensive handcrafted products in the mercantile section. Many of these goods are made by people on the other side of the globe, but they are labeled “fair trade” which makes it easy for us to feel good about their purchase while getting a good price.

soaking willowfarmers market

So the basketmaker has to find a market niche just like the winemaker who has their own vineyard might. Not everyone will want or need our product, but hopefully our business is included in the conversation about local farms, the economy, ecologically friendly practices, and sustainability.