June 2013 newsletter

willow basket trunk by Katherine Lewis

Greetings! Here is our current list of events and activities for the upcoming summer and fall. We are especially excited about Katherine’s trip back east for the Cole-Ware Collection opening at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and the National Basketry Organization conference at Arrowmont in October. Scroll on down for the details.

Upcoming Events

Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair: July 26,27,28, 2013, Bellevue, WA. One of the region’s largest and most prestigious arts fairs hosted by the Bellevue Arts Museum. Katherine is excited to have been accepted into this juried show and will be in space H-13. She will have many new baskets and has a large enough booth to demonstrate her work during the show.willow magazine basket by Katherine Lewis

Art of the Garden – Schack Art Center: June 13-August 1, 2013, Everett, WA. Garden art and art to bring the garden into the home in a wide variety of medium. Katherine’s piece in the exhibit is this Irish potato basket form she named “pumpkin patch” because of its orange and black colors.willow basket by Katherine Lewis

Anacortes Arts Festival – Experience Art: August 3 & 4, 2013. Katherine has been invited to demonstrate willow basketry as part of the artists in action area at this year’s Anacortes Arts Festival. You can find Katherine working with several artists in a variety of forms just north of the food court area near the Arts at the Port exhibits.katherine Lewis willow basketmaker

All Things Considered VII – sponsored by the National Basketry Organization: August 24-October 19, 2013 at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN and November 20, 2013-February 26, 1014 at the Fuller Craft museum in Brockton, MA. An exhibit of invited and juried works showcasing both traditional and sculptural basketry while representing the depth of outstanding technique and innovative design. Katherine’s entry is titled “Sorted out”.Sorted Out by Katherine Lewis

A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets: October 4-December 8, 2013, Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery.

Katherine has several baskets in this collection that was generously donated to the Smithsonian by collectors Steve Cole and Martha Ware. Katherine is planning on attending the opening of the exhibit in October. She is looking forward to meeting the collectors as well as many of the other artisans. As a maker of functional craft, it is an honor to be part of an exhibit at such a prestigious decorative arts venue. There will be an exhibit catalogue authored by curator Nicholas R. Bell with photos of all the baskets and interviews with the makers. There might even be a couple of photos from Dunbar Gardens in the catalog. The public opening of the exhibit on October 4 will include a special program highlighting the exhibit. Katherine is providing one of several baskets for a “hands on gallery” where visitors will be able to pick up baskets similar to the ones they have seen in the exhibit. Pass the word to friends and family who will be visiting Washington, DC to put the exhibit on their itinerary.Katherine Lewis baskets in the Cole-Ware collection

Willow Basketmaking Classes

Currently there are no classes scheduled at Dunbar Gardens or the Mount Vernon area. Katherine is busy weaving baskets while attending to family obligations so she has cut back on her teaching schedule this year. However, Katherine is teaching at the request of some basketry organizations in other locations.

October 8-13, 2013: National Basketry Organization Conference at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Katherine is honored to have been asked to propose a class for the NBO conference. She is going to be teaching scalloming and fitching with willow. Working with bark-on willows from our farm, participants in this workshop will work on two techniques in willow basket construction, scallomed-on stakes and fitched sides. Scalloming involves cutting a tail on the end of the willow stake so it can be attached to a base hoop, making the size and shape of the basket dependent only on the hoop. Fitching is an open work weave. Combined with scallomed stakes, it makes a strong and lightweight basket with elegantly simple lines. Participants will learn different base construction methods before learning to cut scalloms. Projects will be tailored to each student’s individual weaving level. Students can expect to make one to two baskets or fitched trivets. Class will be just a part of the activities at this gathering of basketmakers. Katherine will also be giving a presentation with a slide show of her 2011 trip to basketry festivals in Europe. See the NBO website for all the conference details.Katherine Lewis NBO class baskets

Farmstand

We are sorry to announce that we will not be selling produce on the farm this summer. We appreciate the support we have received from our regular customers and hope you were amply rewarded with good food over the years. There are many good options now in the Skagit Valley for farmers markets and farmstands so we have decided to focus on our willow basketry business. Of course we are open every day if you would like to look at the baskets we have on hand. Don’t hesitate to stop in for a visit.Dunbar Gardens willow baskets

Facebook:  Dunbar Gardens has a Facebook page. We post photos of Katherine’s latest baskets, commissions, and photos of the farm.

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

Katherine & Steve

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Coppicing basketry willow

basketry willow cuttings

Dunbar Gardens willow cuttings “basketmaker’s package”

So you bought some willow cuttings and you’re wondering how to prune them. Of course you can always read the handy growing tips on our website but the following photos show the essentials to getting started coppicing your basketry willow.

planting basketry willow cuttings

planting basketry willow cuttings

You get your garden soil ready to plant and mark your rows. Insert cuttings with the buds facing up. We give our willow cuttings a slanted cut on the root end to help them slide into the soil and make it easy to decide which end goes down.

basket willow planting

new willow planting

basketry willow plants

first year basketry willows

After a year your willow plants might look like the ones above. I planted these in late May which isn’t optimum for our climate, but shows what they might look like in less than ideal growing conditions. You can most easily prune or coppice them during the winter months when they are dormant. We do most of our cutting from December through March.

first year basketry willow plant

first year’s growth

This is a Salix purpurea plant after one year.

pruning basketry willow

cutting the willow rods

Cut off the stems or rods back to the original cutting.

pruning basketry willow

pruning back the original cutting

pruning basketry willow

pruned back to an inch

I usually recommend leaving a couple of inches of the cutting above the soil level when planting. When you are coppicing the plants after the first year don’t hesitate to cut the original cutting back to within an inch of the ground above a lower stem.

pruning basketry willow

finish cuttings stems off

Cut all the willow rods off the plant. You do not need to leave anything more than an inch of the stool above ground.

first year willow stool

first year coppiced stool

Coppicing the willow close to the ground in the first year gives you a better stool for the long run. The willow stool gets a little higher each year as it matures so it is advantageous to start it out low. It will be easier to prune and hopefully lead to straighter willow. If you have planted through a poly ground cover, you probably want to leave the stool higher.

basketry willow withies

new cuttings from first year’s harvest

The first year harvest is often meager, but you can make your own cuttings from the butt ends to increase your willow planting.

new growth willow stool

new growth from coppiced stool

basketry willow

four year old coppiced willow plant

In three or four years your basketry willow plants will look something like the photo above.

coppiced willow plant

coppiced willow

The willow rods are cut as close as possible to the stool. Clean cuts encourage better growth.

basketry willow harvest at Dunbar Gardens

basketry willow harvest

Before you know it you will be harvesting bundles of basketry willow! If you haven’t purchased your willow cuttings yet, head over to our website to see our great selection.

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February 2013 Newsletter

Greetings! Here is our current list of events and activities for 2013. We are especially excited about Katherine’s trip back east for the Cole-Ware Collection opening at the Renwick Gallery and the NBO conference at Arrowmont later in the year. Scroll on down for details of events, classes, and willow cuttings.

Spike inspects willow baskets

Upcoming Events

Artist Trust Benefit Art Auction: Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center, February 23, 2013. Annual dinner and auction benefits Artist Trust which supports Washington artists of all disciplines through grants, workshops and professional support. Katherine received a grant from Artist Trust to help fund her study with basketmaker David Drew in September, 2011. Katherine is donating one of her lovely panier à jour baskets for the auction. The auction is curated so there are some very nice works included which can be previewed on the website.

fitched willow basket by Katherine Lewis

MoNA Style 2012: Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, WA, March 16, 2013, 10-5. willow magazine basketThis annual show features wearable art and home furnishings from Northwest artisans. Part of each sale helps support the museum. Katherine will be there with willow baskets along with 35 plus vendors of handmade creations.

Stash Fest Insider Visit: April 6-7, 2013, La Conner Civic Garden Club.

Katherine Lewis willow basketmakerKatherine is donating a visit to Dunbar Gardens and her personal work space as part of this year’s StashFest which is an annual fundraiser for the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. StashFest attendees can buy a visit for one to three people to Katherine’s world or one of the other featured fiber artists. It’s a fun event for fiber lovers. You can check out all the details about the extraordinary fabric sales on the website.

A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets: October 4, 2013-January 12, 2014, Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery.

Katherine Lewis baskets in Cole-Ware CollectionKatherine has several baskets in this collection which was generously donated to the Smithsonian by collectors Steve Cole and Martha Ware. Katherine is planning on attending the opening of the exhibit in October. She is looking forward to meeting the collectors as well as many of the other artisans. As a maker of functional craft, it is an honor to be part of an exhibit at such a prestigious decorative arts venue. There will be an exhibit catalogue authored by curator Nicholas R. Bell with photos of all the baskets and interviews with the makers. There might even be a couple of photos of Dunbar Gardens in the catalog.

Willow Basketmaking Classes

Currently there are no classes scheduled at Dunbar Gardens or the Mount Vernon area. Katherine is busy weaving baskets while attending to family obligations so she has cut back on her teaching schedule for the coming months. Some of you may know that Katherine’s father passed away early this year and her mother has needed assistance settling affairs. However, Katherine is teaching at the request of some basketry organizations in other locations.

March 22-24, 2013: Salt Spring Island Basketry Guild in SSI, British Columbia, Canada.

Irish potato basket by Katherine LewisKatherine will be presenting a program on her 2011 willow travels in Europe as well as teaching a two day basketry class featuring the Irish potato basket. She is excited to visit weaving friends on SSI again. Details and registration are available on the Guild’s website.

October 8-13, 2013: National Basketry Organization Conference at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Katherine Lewis class willow basketsKatherine is honored to have been asked to propose a class for the NBO conference. She is going to be teaching scalloming and fitching with willow. Working with bark-on willows from Katherine’s farm, participants in this workshop will work on two techniques in willow basket construction, scallomed-on stakes and fitched sides. Scalloming involves cutting a tail on the end of the willow stake so it can be attached to a base hoop, making the size and shape of the basket dependent only on the hoop. Fitching is an open work weave. Combined with scallomed stakes, it makes a strong and lightweight basket with elegantly simple lines. Participants will learn different base construction methods before learning to cut scalloms. Projects will be tailored to each student’s individual weaving level. Students can expect to make one to two baskets or fitched trivets.

cutting basketry willow at Dunbar Gardens

Willow cuttings

It’s the time of year to order willow cuttings. We have a nice selection of varieties for planting listed on our website. Depending on your location, March through mid May is a good time to plant. There are planting tips on the website as well. If you need advice or have questions, send Steve an email.

Dunbar Gardens willow cuttings

Farmstand

We are open every day if you would like to look at the baskets we have on hand. You can also pick up willow cuttings, but please contact Steve in advance with an order.

Dunbar Gardens farmstand willow baskets

Facebook:  Dunbar Gardens has a Facebook page. We post photos of Katherine’s latest baskets, commissions, and photos of the farm.  You don’t have to be a Facebook user to visit our page and look at the photo albums we have posted there.

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

Katherine & Steve

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Weaving a willow basket slideshow

We recently made a slideshow of Katherine weaving a willow log basket. She was commissioned to make four of these for the historic artisans of Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. They are using them as general work baskets so Katherine added a ‘foot’ onto the baskets for better wear. Steve added a little music so it might be enjoyable even if you’re not a basket geek.

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