Nov. 13, 2020
By Emily Stehle
Stuff. I have a lot of stuff just hanging around my house. In baskets, in boxes, stacked on shelves. I have been collecting trash for the past few years; stuff that I normally would have thrown away. My friends even collect for me! My husband kinda goes crazy because of this “hoarding.” But I say I need supplies to create my baskets or sculptures…or non-functional pieces of art.
YOU REALLY GONNA KEEP ALL THAT STUFF?
Foil wine “caps.” Plastic bottle caps. Straws. Birthday cards. Christmas cards. Cereal and cracker boxes. Toothpaste container boxes. Soap container boxes. It’s not pretty and unfortunately, it doesn’t look pretty here in this blog format! My challenge right now is getting my photos to look decent in this blog.
In any case, it, like my basketweavings and thoughts is a work in progress.
Also, bags and boxes full of shredded cardstock paper; expired business rack cards from The Pier Aquarium (from when I was marketing/public relations director) and organizations such as Florida CraftArt and the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, who “donated” their old invitations and brochures to me. They liked that I was recycling. My own junk mail is treasure because of the color or its weight and suitability for weaving.
The natural common commercial basketweaving materials – reed, cane (bamboo and other woods) and harvested naturals like palm tree trash, philodendron leaves and vines have been at home with me for many years. Colorized, separated and stored in the big see-through Ikea linen storage bags, they are a reminder that anything that is 10 inches long is a good weaver! (Shorter pieces are good for random, smaller woven pieces).
I have been known to take things out of the trash, too.
LEARNING THE BASICS
I’ve been weaving baskets for 25+ years and have taken classes from creative basketmakers through the Tampa Bay Basketmakers Guild, created almost 30 years ago. My TBBG pals taught me the basics. I realized pretty early on that I enjoyed learning techniques and patterns and making a basket according to directions like in “the photo.” However, I didn’t see the point of making an exact second one.
And then I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like to follow directions all the time. And when I couldn’t understand them, I’d improvise and make my own weave pattern. I came to enjoy collecting items with which to make baskets more. Obviously, there was something more I had to learn!
INSPIRATION FROM THE BEST IN THE FIELD
Teachers named in my first blog post inspired me. They were doing what I considered “weird but interesting stuff.” Or taking a technique and making it different. It was intriguing because they made baskets that weren’t baskets. (Yeah, they contained something: Air)! I kept seeing their names and their baskets in books and magazines.
Their names need repeating…Jerry Bleem, who uses hundreds of staples in his baskets…
Flo Hoppe, who developed patterns emulating Japanese works…Diane Lunow, who gave me my first bergamia vine and started me on a knotless netting journey… Jo Stealey, who constructs vessels out of paper pulp… Gina Telcocci, who has me thinking of big scale installations and collaborations with artists friends. My friends at the National Basketry Organization, Executive Director Pam Morton, Administrative Manager Joan Ciolino and President Carol Eckert have helped me find a name for what I do. I am a contemporary basketmaker!