Basket purse

willow basket purse

willow basket purse

Katherine has recently been working on making willow basket purses. (Or what do you call a small basket with a lid and a shoulder strap? Shoulder basket,  hand basket, or purse?)  Anyway, she had two inspirations for working with this form. She often carries a purse she made from red cedar bark around and inevitably gets asked if she sells those too. So she was thinking she ought to be wearing a willow basket.

She made the small square version from buff willow in the photo above. Next she made one a bit larger and using some green willow for the side weave. We decided this might make a nice camera basket; so we lined it with some foam padding. We will be adding these baskets to our selection at Dunbar Gardens.

Steve's camera basket

Steve’s camera basket

Katherine has also been working with an oval version. It is a simpler basket with less stakes and simpler side weave. It might allow her to offer this basket as a two day class to intermediate skilled willow weavers with enough time for people to finish. Information about future classes will be posted on our website. Stay tuned.

oval version of basket purse

oval version of basket purse


August basket class

Katherine demonstrating a basket handle wrap.

Katherine demonstrating a basket handle wrap.

Katherine  had a willow basketry class at Dunbar Gardens this past weekend. We had nine people in the class with a range of experience and age. There were total beginners, people who had made some willow baskets, a couple of handweavers, and two who had taken a previous class with Katherine but using a different technique. There was a neighbor from down the block and someone from Sebastopol, CA. Rounding out the mix were Katherine’s friends and fellow willow basket makers Alex Keggan and Debbie McLelland who came by for awhile to give the weavers some assistance when needed. The class participants had the choice of a round gathering basket or an oval garden basket depending on their experience, or not perhaps!  Usually I try to get a group photo at the end of class, but somehow we didn’t get around to it. Finish times and departures varied abit at the end. So instead I put together this short slide show (hoping that nobody involved will object!). You can click on the image for a larger view of the photos.

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August newsletter

weaving zig zag

News from Dunbar Gardens August 2009

Willow Basketry Classes & Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Garden GA-GA Skagit:  Friday, August 21, 4-9pm at Juntunen Farm and Gardens, 18091 Burkland Road, Mount Vernon. This new event is a joint effort between Skagit Artists Together, Museum of Northwest Art, Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Hospital Guild of Skagit County, and Economic Development Association of Skagit County. It will be a garden party with artists in action, live music, wine and beer garden, food, and tours of the beautiful Juntunen gardens with proceeds to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital. Katherine will be demonstrating willow basketry and selling her work as part of this celebration. Tickets must be purchased before August 14. Contact Debi at EDASC 360-336-6114 or see the web link. Update: Tickets will be available at the door for this event.

Fall Collection 2009, Dewey Beach Artists at The Depot Arts Center:  September 4 through 26, 611 R Ave., Anacortes, WA. Katherine has been invited to be a guest artist with the Dewey Beach artists group at their annual show at The Depot Arts Center. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday; check their website for the list of other artists, hours, and map. The opening will be part of the Anacortes First Friday Art Walk, September 4, 6-9pm.

Festival of Family Farms at Gordon Skagit Farms: October 3 & 4, 15598 McLean Rd., Mount Vernon (just around the corner from Dunbar Gardens). Katherine will be demonstrating willow basketmaking and selling baskets at the Gordon’s Autumn Harvest Farmstand as part of the annual Skagit Valley farm tour.

PAINT ME A RIVER! Art meets History: Skagit County Historical Museum, exhibit opening, October 10, 4-7pm. Exhibit runs Oct. 10-Jan. 3, 2010. 501 South 4th Street, La Conner, WA. 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 a wide variety of interesting, amusing and surprising responses that Skagit history can inspire.

Other News

Basketry of the Pacific Northwest:  July 28 – August 29, The Lab, Museum of Contemporary Craft, 724 NW Davis St., Portland, Oregon. Katherine has two baskets in a juried show featuring Northwest basket makers, traditional and contemporary.

Willow Basketmaking Classes with Katherine Lewis

Classes are two days; from 9am to 5pm. Class size is limited to 10. Cost is $165 per student which includes materials. There is a registration form on the website. Or you can send us your contact info (name, address, email, telephone) along with a $35 deposit per class session. See the website for more details.

There are still a couple of spaces available in each of these classes.

August 15 & 16: Round gathering basket or Oval garden basket

The gathering basket is a great beginning willow basketmaking class. We’ll make a round picking basket of locally grown and English willows. We start with a round base made by twining, a sturdy base wale around the sides, English randing for the side weave, and a strong handle to complete the base. Students who have made this basket before can learn a new weave, make it with a tall handle for a hanging flower basket, or make a taller version with an inset handle to use as a waste basket.

The garden basket is an oval project for those with more experience. The base uses twining and chase weaves. The sides of the basket include a sturdy 4 rod base wale with step up to three rod wale. It has a side weave of French randing and a sturdy handle wrapped with slender willows. Class at Dunbar Gardens.

October 10 & 11: Gathering basket (beginners) or Round laundry basket (intermediate)

Depending on each student’s experience, you can make a round picking or laundry basket of locally grown and English willows. We’ll make a round base using twining, stake up the sides and begin the weave with a sturdy base wale. Students may choose between different side weave options. The laundry basket is larger than the gathering basket, taking more hand strength and more time to weave the sides. Both baskets have the same 5 rod border. The gathering basket is then completed with a cross handle for carrying; the laundry basket will be completed with two roped side handles.

Additional upcoming class dates in Mount Vernon: December 5 & 6: Bread & berry baskets

September 16-20, 2009: Tidal Twinings, the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild Annual Fall Retreat

Katherine will be teaching two classes at this event on the Oregon coast. Please see their website for the brochure and registration. There were still a couple of spaces available in the zig zag oval shopper class. The deadline to sign up for Katherine’s class would be Sept. 1. Please contact the CBBG.

Farmstand: We are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday; 10-6 with fresh garden produce. Baskets are available everyday, but contact us in advance if you are coming from a distance. Katherine makes baskets to order; check out the willow basket gallery on our website for a look at the possibilities.

Photos: We post photos of recent baskets and the farm at

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

Katherine & Steve

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SAT studio tour

baskets and willows at Dunbar Gardens

baskets and willows at Dunbar Gardens

This past weekend was the sixth annual juried Skagit Artists Together studio tour. This is the second year that Katherine has participated. The tour is kind of an open farm day for us at Dunbar Gardens. Since Katherine actually works on the second floor of our old farmhouse, we display the baskets in our barn and Katherine demonstrates basketry outside. The nice thing for visitors is that they can see the connection between the craft and the materials. We invite people to walk out to see the willow fields. We can explain the process of growing, harvesting, drying, sorting, soaking, and finally weaving of the willows.

baskets in the barn

baskets in the barn

We had a beautiful two days for the tour. Traffic and sales were less than last year, but that was not surprising given the down economy. We hope folks enjoyed their visit. We were still selling some fresh produce from our garden like we do every weekend, so some people just stopped by for the vegies!

Heidi clowning around

Heidi clowning around