I make coiled baskets using longleaf pine needles and waxed linen thread.
I am a self-taught pine needle basketmaker who has been coiling longleaf pine needles with waxed linen thread since 1977. My work is included in numerous public and private collections, has been included in over 250 exhibition venues throughout the US and abroad over the last 40+ years, and has been published in numerous international, national and regional magazines, catalogs, and fine craft publications. I treat each basket as a new adventure.
I follow no patterns and make no preliminary sketches before I begin a basket. Instead, I prefer to plan a basket as it is being made. The coiling process is very slow, which allows me plenty of time to be creative as I stitch.
I am drawn to pine needle basketry because of the uniqueness of the craft and that fact that I am using sustainable natural materials. The process combines simple materials - longleaf pine needles, waxed linen thread, and a large sewing needle - with lots of creative time. I gather pine needles directly from young longleaf pine trees in the sandhills of South Carolina, paying particular attention that I do no damage to my source tree. I then dry the pine needles in my studio for several months before I begin the coiling process. This drying time allows the fresh needles adequate time to shrink as much as possible. I then work with the needles in their natural state or combine a dying and painting process before creating a coil that is stitched together with waxed linen thread. I utilize the sheath (the end that is attached to the tree) of the pine needle instead of removing it. By using the sheath, I am able to create patterns and textures that open the process to fresh, eye-catching objects. When a basket is completed, it is preserved with a coating of beeswax and signed with my initials - CB.
I never tire of making pine needle baskets because the coiling process allows me total freedom to create shapes that are only limited by my imagination and time. I am always anxious to start another basket as soon as I complete the object at hand. After more than 40 years of coiling, the passion to make yet another basket is a driving force in my creative life. I hope you enjoy viewing my pieces as much as I enjoy making them.
Additional photos of my work that are available for sale are listed on my Etsy site, PineNeedleBasketsCB.