Our cats consider us “staff.” We made another basket. Yes, we take classes. I have my kids guess which of us made which basket. Hint: Colleen hates red. The shapes and sizes vary by the weaver. Ha ha! I think Colleen’s shape is better/nicer. For sure! After all that, Nutley hopped right in and went to sleep. Who’s basket is he in? Ha ha!
I have made 30 Nantucket baskets and counting. They are not yet entirely complete but are done enough to appreciate. Defects? Plenty! I’m not striving for perfection. I just want to gain efficiency and make as many msikates in order to learn the limits. It’s been interesting. Now, they are like my children. Can I gift them away? Certainly, there is plenty of potential. They really do look great! Who’s your favorite child? 30 favorite children??
During covid I am down to two chief subjects, my cats and flowers. Boring is good. It means we are safe and sound. I have joined Colleen in obsessing over weather. I have four different weather apps open and one beach cam. And we cook and eat. …repeat. Colleen asked me to photograph her handicraft and mine. We completed these projects among others. Spinning fiber to yarn; weaving yarn to material, scarves; weaving Nantucket baskets. I’m not bragging; the girl’s got talent. Me? I’m better than I was but not as good as I’m gonna be.
Bored. Yes, dammit! Bored! Remember, this post was composed two – three – months ago. Arghhhh! Yes, pirates say argh. I’m confined. I take pictures of baskets – that I made (Nantucket). I arrange artificial flowers. I take picture of flowers I planted. I cook. I take pictures of my cats. There! Colleen actually reads my blog faithfully. She’s not listed as a follower. Ha! She’s laughing out loud right about now. Call it support from home. If she doesn’t then who will? Arghhh!!!
I use a camera. On my iPhone it’s an odd potpourri of images. It’s rarely of great import. I just don’t think that dinky lens is better than real glass. Snob! Right! I document things that I need to remember. I take a pic that I can send instantly to someone. I photo things I plan to buy. I photograph recipes. It is a portable walking memory for me to remember items like a book to borrow. Otherwise, I have a camera on me nearly every time I carry my phone. It’s my system and my thinking. It works for me.
Someone once said to me that the sign of genius is a messy desk. Ha ha! I wish. Nantucket basket weaving takes space and material. It’s controlled chaos. I know where everything is. The tools of the trade are organized so I lay my hand on whatever is required quickly. Piles of material await use. Right!? Really! There is absolute organization. Rims take time and so I let them accumulate. Hence, there are a lot of baskets awaiting the finishing touch. Note: the background is Colleen’s big wheel (spinning, not tricycle) and one of the smaller looms. What else is in the background? …two more regular spinning wheels, finished baskets on the mantle and on the TV cabinet…. Sometimes the lines between worhshop and home blur. It’s ours, we’re fine.
The passion has cooled. One never knows. No no, I still love my (present) wife! (I was once married to someone who was never wrong.) Here, this is the single (to date) Nantucket basket she (Colleen) has woven. I just examined it again. It’s pretty near to perfect. In fact, it is really perfect to my eye. She is a bit (quite) compulsive and follows direction. How? Perfectly! It’s in her nature to always strive harder and to more perfect.
The body of my work by now is far greater in volume. Quality took a back seat to efficiency. I was seeking to hone my skill. Mistakes? Ok, you don’t make an omelet without breaking…. Experiment? Style? Pattern? Color? Yes! It’s a collection where nothing has been the same from the last. That would make it art not production. Imperfect, not too bad, not ready for prime time, but still the body of work is impressive if I don’t point too closely. I see cherry blossoms and don’t seek to find a single perfect bloom.
Looking overall, I see Colleen’s single work in a different light today. It recalls a vascular surgeon named D.r Goetz whom imparted to a raw intern (me), “You can do an operation a hundred times and never know it. Or, you can do it once and it is yours. You choose.”
I think each and every basket has a mistake. It goes with the territory. After you are done, there’s no back, of course. On this occasion I actually backtracked to the beginning. It was successful. Sometimes you gotta know when to give it up. Starting over is tedious and akin to a defeat. I hate losing. But who’s the loser? So, it was much better to start than to see this through to an unhappy end.
After my initial spate of baskets, no two have been alike. And the pattern I can create from color… it’s limited by the lack of color weaving cane. But pattern is precise and appealing. I’m much better with pattern than free form creation that drawing or painting requires. No one ever accused me of being subtle. Contrast, bold contrast, that appeals to me.
I’ve been doing (weaving) baskets for a bit more than a year. Yes, they call it “weaving.” And each and every teacher has said to me, “pack, your weaving needs to be tighter.” Ha! Working with a mold, my second try was tight. And my third was so tight I couldn’t get the mold off. It’s a struggle. Darn! I have to back off. Who knew I was tight? Better? I’m getting better. I suppose I should put in a word about keeping your sh*t together? Nah!?
Since I retired I have taken up spinning; yes, as in “Rapunzel.” I have begun basket making; yes, as in that “throw away/easy ‘A’ class in pre-med in college. I doubt my college ever offered basket making. And I apologize to all who make baskets. Indeed, there is a range of people of extraordinary skill down to amateurs (like me). But, on occasion, I can crank out something visually captivating. Mistakes? You bet! To the viewer’s eye, not so fast. It’s picky to look for mistakes. It’s equally hard for me not to see my own (mistakes). Colleen weaves (gifts). At this pace it’s gonna be hard to find display space, alas, (gifts too).
Nantucket basket. They appeal. There’s a certain geometric architectural preciseness about them. I’m not there yet. And, I’m experimenting. I never met a rule I didn’t try to break. So, my baskets will be uniquely me. I’m not ready for prime time. Real crafted Nantucket baskets are expensive. And the Chinese made ones are mere dollars. Mass produce for cheap labor, but don’t denigrate the quality. It’s good. But the whole industry suffers for cheap product no matter how well made. Meanwhile, my second basket has a pattern. I’m totally lost as far as making and designing a pattern. It’s my first solo without instruction. Hey! Raw material to product, it’s quite a career change for me.