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!
The cats like to be cozy. They climb into baskets and shipping boxes all the time. I was amazed that Willow squeezed himself into a basket the size of a bread box. No problem. Amusing? You bet. He didn’t stay long. I got my pictures. He left.
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??
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!!!
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.
We’ve been at this about a year. February 16, 2019, was the first basket class we ever took. A little more than a year later… we’ve come quite a long way. We’ve encountered three-four teachers. We learned a few tricks. And we can now make a Nantucket basket. It’s not so difficult as much as it is patience in learning the necessary technique. I have yet to make one of my own design. There are plans out there. I can be very happily occupied for a long while. Looking back we’ve come a long way. I would never have thought we’d weave something so intricate looking every bit as fine as I would admire in a craft store. Neat! … just a year. Oh my! PErfect? No. Happy? Priceless!
And… which one did I craft, which was Colleen’s?
We make baskets (not this one). Yup! And our cats have come to enjoy sleeping in them. Some? Not all. It’s hard to know what they like. We just find them in baskets. Usually, there’s no competition. The cats are laid back. They share. No fighting, it seems everyone is mellow. And then I used the basket for the cat toys – cloth mice. And… the mice got strewn on the floor to make room for Nutley.
Well, we’ve come a long way. Basket making class. Ha ha. … never in my (wildest) dreams would I ever… I would have to admit we are pretty good at it. Men? Not many (in class). What I realize, is that my skill is much beyond beginner now. Comparatively, I am reasonably skilled and can complete a basket faster now. Progress! It’s good to be better. Ah! I like to compete with myself. It’s hard to know if you are … progressing? Now, my question: can you tell who made which? (Colleen is every bit as good, skilled, and quick.) For some darned reason, my daughter Jules has been right every time. How does she know?
Nowhere to hide. If you make a basket with a precise pattern, any error is glaring. The problem is that the mistake you make is gradual and therefore not readily apparent until near the end. One among us is more OCD than the other. Yes, that would not be me. I wonder how many – none – in the basket class realize I was once a brain surgeon. Ha! “If it doesn’t fit, force it.” Or, you can always make something worse, worser. No, I cannot claim wide angle distortion. Exposed, nowhere to hide.
We call Ray and Nutley the twins. They arrived together. We have three sets – of twins – the sisters, the boys, and the twins. Rainy day, it was great light coming from the window. I must admit I am color. I don’t think in black and white at all. I tried. But I am completely seduced by color. Cute helps too. They are bigger now. Even so, Ray fits his big ole’ self right into the basket and is happy as a clam. Clam? Why/when are clams happy? Everyones’ eatn’ ’em.
This would be our 4th try at basket making. I would say it was impressive work. Colleen had doubt we could do this when she signed us up. Guess which basket I made? It’s called a feather basket for the decorative embellishment. It was dead simple to do. And the result is very striking. A group of women showed up – and me. Why am I the only guy? Though I was close, I was not able to finish in a day’s work. Our cousins have had great sport making fun of us. But the result speaks for itself. The only thing left is the staining to make the baskets look more aged. Given the expense, it’s less costly to get old baskets in the antique stores we frequent. However, there is a great deal of satisfaction in completing a project and the social gathering is priceless. Yup, everyone guess correctly about the one I made.
We took a basket making class. Don’t ask. I used to joke about basket making as a throw away college course in which to get an easy “A.” Now I have nightmares about the final exam tomorrow in a college course in which I neglected to attend a single class. I’m retired! No classes! Ever! I cannot fail. And I will not take another final exam. Ever! As you can see our work was immediately appropriated and put to good comfort and use.
We renamed Nibbles to Nutley. Wasn’t there a Rocky and Bullwinkle character?….no Muttley. No matter this is Nutley. He ran and hopped into the basket to hide from me. Yes, he needed a safe place to hide. As you can see, no one is truly safe around me. Don’t laugh. (ha ha). But then again I would hide too if someone tossed me about like so much flotsam.
Our cats have adopted our baskets. Who figured that I would have cats? Or, that we would have enough baskets… Not any basket will do. I don’t know the criteria the cats use. But they pick and claim and no one else seems to compete. Pick a basket for your nap. I tried to bring home baskets that would suit. Nope. They pick what they want.
It’s a soft sided basket a bit too small for Patch’s wide body eighteen pound frame. He’s a big boy even though there’s a lot of fur too. He loves his basket and sleeps there for hours at a time. He’s laid back. Shares. Someone else comes along and sleeps in his spot, Patch is cool. He’s got good taste. We can’t seem to find another like it. Go figure.