MoNA Style 2010

Basketmaker Katherine Lewis

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.

artist Katherine Lewis

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.

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Mom and Pop business

ballon basket sample

“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.


Willow basketry class schedule

Katherine lewis, willow basketry teacher

We have posted a new schedule of willow basket making classes by Katherine Lewis for the first half of 2010. You can view all the info on the basket classes page on the Dunbar Gardens website. She is offering a variety of baskets and techniques, as well as trying to accommodate weavers with different levels of willow experience in most classes.

  • February 27-28: Scallomed projects – oval shopper, magazine basket, square shopper
  • April 10-11: Stake and strand projects – round gathering basket, oval shopper, oval garden basket
  • May 1-2: Irish potato basket and fruit basket
  • June 26-27: stake and strand projects – gathering basket, round laundry with roped handles, oval laundry
  • mid August (specific dates to be announced): repeat of scallomed class from February

Katherine is also organizing an in depth four day class for July. This class will be for a smaller number of weavers looking for a more extensive experience. Possible projects will include square work and fitching. Some students have been asking for more in depth work with Katherine, and this will be the chance. People interested can contact Katherine for more details. (Need I say weavers with the necessary hand strength to go four days?)

fitched willow basket by Katherine Lewis

We have also listed a couple of classes that she is teaching in other locations. She is offering an “Intro to fitching class” at the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild Spring Retreat March 25-26. The project is a lovely oval market basket. Katherine will also be traveling to Portland, Oregon May 20-24 to give a presentation and class to members of the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild.

Visit our website for more details, registration form, and photos of the baskets and past classes.


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