We recently had to prepare ten images of Katherine Lewis willow baskets for an application. It’s always a challenge to distill her work down to just ten baskets. Limiting work to the past three years actually gives a needed structure to the search. Of course, we always find that outstanding willow basket made for a customer that wasn’t photographed with a neutral background. However the real problem is paring it down to something that shows her diverse skills but still seems cohesive. Here are the ten baskets Steve collated to showcase Katherine’s skills as a traditional willow basket maker. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger image, click on the arrows to view the next images.
Last year at this time we were in the middle of all the excitement of Katherine’s willow baskets at the Cole-Ware Exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC and her teaching at the National Basketry Organization Conference at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN. This year’s events are a little closer to home. Details below about two upcoming shows in our area. We are also happy to announce that Katherine will be back teaching at the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild Retreat in March.
October 31, November 1 and 2 at Maple Hall, 104 Commercial Street: Annual arts celebration in nearby La Conner, WA featuring work from 13 invitational artists and over 80 works in the open show where Katherine will have a basket called Pi(e) (image left). There will be an opening on the Friday evening from 5-9pm with live music, wine and food. There will also be artist demonstrations throughout the weekend. Katherine will be demonstrating her willow basketry from 1-3pm on Sunday. She will have several more willow baskets on display in the demo area. Admission is free.
Opening Friday, November 14 6-8pm, Open Sat.-Sun. Nov, 15-16 & Nov. 22-23, 10-5. An arts and crafts show held twice each year in the Skagit Valley at the historic Rexville Grange (19299 Rexville Grange Road). Katherine will have a large selection of her baskets available. There will be paintings, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry, photography and more by an impressive list of local artists. The opening evening on November 14 will feature live Celtic music by Campbell Road as well as refreshments and a chance to mingle with artists and friends. If you want a chance to chat with Katherine other than the opening, she is scheduled to work all day on Saturday Nov. 22.
March 11-15, 2015, Pilgrim Firs Conference Center, Kitsap Peninsula: Katherine will be teaching two willow basket classes at this year’s retreat. One is a 14 hour class making Katherine’s ‘potluck’ basket and the other is a 19 hour class making her willow ‘purse’. If you have been wanting to take classes from her, this will be a great opportunity. Class size is limited to 10 people and will probably fill so you are advised to check the website soon for the class descriptions and brochure (probably early November). You need to be a member of the Guild, but you can join on your registration form for the retreat. It’s a fun event and organization.
Earlier this year Katherine joined the Board of the NBO. She has been a member for several years and was invited to teach at the conference last year. The conference next year will be in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota July 14-19, 2015. The Board has been working hard to make it another great event. Katherine has been working on getting the various basketry guilds across the country more involved with the organization. She hopes many of you will consider joining or supporting the NBO.
Time to start thinking about willow cuttings. Steve takes orders starting January 1 through March 31. We ship orders through the end of May according to your planting needs. We will be updating the website soon with 2015 availability and prices. If you ordered in previous years, we love to hear feedback on how the varieties are growing in your area. Last year alone we shipped out some 8000 cuttings so we hope there will be a lot of willow baskets getting woven in the near future.
A big thanks to everyone who has purchased Katherine’s baskets! Just a reminder to order early if you want something before the end of the year!
Facebook: Dunbar Gardens has a Facebook page. We post photos of Katherine’s latest baskets, commissions, and photos of the farm.
Pinterest: Dunbar Gardens now has a Pinterest page where we have boards featuring Katherine’s baskets, basketry willow, other willow baskets and makers, as well as some bird photos.
For more information about classes, baskets, willow growing, or our farmstand please visit our website. Thanks!
Katherine & Steve
Katherine was honored to have three of her baskets chosen for the 19th Juried Art Show at the Schack Art Center in Everett, WA. The show opened on June 19 and will end August 2. It is a biennial exhibit of Northwest artists in a wide variety of mediums. This year’s jurors were Jan Hopkins, Ken Rowe and Joan Pinney. You can view the complete list of artists and images of the work on the Schack website.
There are two basket makers in the show with Dorothy McGuinness in addition to Katherine. One of Dorothy’s pieces “Threshold” was awarded Second Place in 3D works. Katherine received an Honorable Mention for her basket “Pi(e)” seen in the image above. Of course, anyone involved with basketry or fiber arts will recognize the name of juror Jan Hopkins. It definitely adds to the honor of having work chosen for the show.
Katherine appreciates the opportunity to display her baskets in an art venue like the Schack. Since her work emphasizes the functional element, it is not often she gets her work juried into exhibits.
Katherine works almost exclusively with willow, but occasionally she experiments with other materials. The third basket in the show titled “Slingshot” has rubber strips used in the side weavers along with the willow base, stakes, border and handle. She uses a zig zag weave with the strips doubled up to get a different look inside and out.
We hope people have a chance to see the exhibit before it closes. Thanks again to the jurors, gallery director Carrie Collver and all the staff at the Schack.
Searching for willow cuttings in the United States? Dunbar Gardens has a nice selection of willow cuttings for sale that can be used for basketry, living willow structures, hedgerows and other garden use. You can find the list, prices and details on our website page: willow cuttings. Our interest in willows started with Katherine Lewis’ basket making. She wanted to work with a material that we could grow on our farm. Since the early 1990’s we have sourced willows from growers in the UK and the US as well as friends and fellow basket makers. Along the way we have collected varieties that both grow and weave well.
Because we are growing willows for Katherine’s basket weaving we have an ample supply of fresh willow rods to use for making cuttings. Our goal is to provide good sized cuttings at a reasonable price. There are a huge number of willows available and we don’t try to fulfill every gardener’s needs. Although the number of sources in the United States are limited, there are nurseries on-line to order from and get information. Here are some other sources to compare varieties and prices with what we have for sale.
Vermont Willow Nursery is located in northern Vermont. Michael Dodge is a trained horticulturist that has become obsessed with willows in his “retirement”. He and his wife Sonia offer a very large selection of willows which they sell as cuttings and live rods. If you are looking for ornamental varieties their website is a great place to start with all of the great images. They are very conscientious about accurate descriptions and taxonomy.
Willowglen Nursery has been growing willows since 1988. They sell willows, baskets and offer a variety of classes. They sell a limited selection of cuttings as well as live and dried rods. There are not many images on their website but they are easy to correspond with and knowledgeable.
Double A Willow is the licensed commercial nursery to grow and distribute patented varieties developed by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Most of these willows were developed for large scale biofuels projects. Since they have bred these willows, you won’t see any of the common heirloom varieties that most of us are growing; though they do sell cuttings for other uses like living willows, privacy fencing and basketry. They do not sell cuttings to Washington, Oregon, Idaho or California.
Gardeners in the US can also consider buying cuttings from Canada. Shipping across the border requires a phytosanitary certificate which the nursery will provide but charge you for it. Nurseries in Canada are obviously interested in selling to the large number of potential US customers. There are a couple that are worth checking out.
Lakeshore Willows is located in Wainfleet, Ontario. They grow about 30 varieties of willow which they offer as cuttings, living rods, and dried willow for basketry. Lene Rasmussen is a native of Denmark and she has been inspired by many of the willow growers and basket makers in Denmark. Lene is another grower that brings the experience of basketry and working with willows to her business. Great website with lots of photos and information. Check out her list of classes as well.
Blue Stem Nursery is located in Christina Lake, British Columbia. They are a mail order nursery of grasses and willows. Although their expertise is in grasses, their website is very informative about growing and using willows with good images and descriptions of the varieties they offer. Update: Blue Stem is no longer in business. The website is still online with lots of info.
Of course we hope you will return and buy willow cuttings from Dunbar Gardens. If you do buy from one of these other mail order willow nurseries, let them know how you found them!