Karen Gubitz at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center

Karen Gubitz is the solo artist in the exhibition, Beyond Craft, on display now through June 10th at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center in Birmingham, Michigan.

Gubitz is a self-taught, award winning fiber and mixed media sculptor. Realizing that her passion lay in creating art, in 2011 at the age of 60, Karen retired from her law career to create art full time. Her work explores the expressive possibilities of combining natural and non-traditional materials with methods and techniques that have a deep and rich history in working with fiber – loom weaving, basketry, knitting, crochet, netting and knotting. 

Interconnections: The Language of Basketry

The works created by the twenty-two artists highlighted in the Hunterdon Art Museum’s newest exhibition, Interconnections: The Language of Basketry, include everything from stapled paper to fabricated metal. Some employ found objects, others utilize clay, linen, or wire.

Interconnections opens at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clifton, New Jersey,  on Sunday, May 15 with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. The event is open to all, and wine and cheese will be served.

“These artists employ basketry processes and concepts in dynamic and imaginative ways, challenging the common view of basketry as a utilitarian folk craft,” said Carol Eckert, NBO member and curator of Interconnections: The Language of Basketry. “Experimenting with techniques and materials — sometimes referencing ancient methods — they create works ranging from large-scale, site-specific works to wall pieces, sculptural constructions and vessel-based forms.” Other artists featured in the show are: Dona Anderson, Jerry Bleem, Charissa Brock, Ann B. Coddington, Emily Dvorin, Lindsay Ketterer Gates, Donna Hapac, Mieko Kawase, Jay Kelly, Heechan Kim, Nancy Koenigsberg, Tracy Krumm, Gyongy Laky, Jo Stealey, Gina Telcocci and Ann Weber.

More information, including exhibit hours, directions, and events can be found at the Hunterdon Art Museum.

Shown above: “Big Fat Hairy Deal” by Emily Dvorin.

Jarrod and April Stone Dahl: Lidded Baskets

April and Jarrod Stone Dahl (Woodspirit) have a rich history of creating beautiful and utilitarian objects for everyday use. Jarrod grew up in Ashland, Wisconsin, a small town on the shores of Lake Superior. He is of Scandinavian decent and much of his woodworking is inspired by those woodworking traditions as well as the indigenous woodworking methods of that area. April is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa/Ojibwe. She began weaving black ash baskets in 1999 after observing a basket Jarrod had made and was using daily as a lunch basket on a log building construction site. She was so impressed with how it held up to the daily abuse that the material earned her respect and she began weaving utilitarian baskets.

The couple takes time out to travel and teach, but, as Jarrod states below,  have recently taken on an interesting research project:

“Over the years, every once in awhile, April weaves one of these lidded baskets. They have a very interesting history on the East coast of the US. They were made by the Schaghticoke, Mohegan, Pequot, Narragansett, Wampanoag tribes to name a few. For generations there has existed a basket weaving tradition among families within the tribal groups in the East. If you do a quick internet search you will find a few of the main families.”

“The shape and proportions of this basket is pretty true to the older designs and styles from 1900 and early. There doesn’t seem to be much of this style here in the midwest with the Winnebago, Ojibwe, and Odawa. If there was it’s been hard to find. Today most folks are making the fancy lidded baskets that have round bottoms and are made with dyed splints. The older forms April likes have square or rectangle bases and are made from natural or un-dyed splints. Many of the old baskets were stamped with decorations and April intends to try that on a few of these over the next few weeks.”

April is really inspired by the old lidded boxes. She says they are a challenge to do right. Getting the sweet proportions between the uprights and the weavers is a very subtle thing. When done well the basket really sings, when just a little off the basket kinda just sits there. Weaving a lid that fits just right is not something that can be rushed. The lids take some careful planning, a high level of understanding of the materials and skill to get it right.”

Next month April and Jarod will leave their home in Wisconsin and set out on a 3 week trip to visit museums and collections the Eastern United States. April was recently awarded a fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

“For her Regional Artist Fellowship, Stone-Dahl will create the pieces as a tribute to the dying Black Ash tree and also plans to research more about Ash basket weaving from other communities, museums and collections outside her region with the hope of gaining more knowledge about the tradition not only for her work but also to teach her students and other eager learners.”

In addition, in June they will both be teaching at Greenwood Fest in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Photo credit: Jarrod Stone Dahl

Willow Resource Guide

The Winter 2015 issue of the Quarterly Review Magazine included a resource guide for willow materials. Download this free resource, and  visit our online shop to purchase a copy of this special issue!

Download your copy of the resource guide here:

Willow Resources

Willow Resource Guide

Lois Russell at the Wilton Historical Society

On view through October 15, Hickory, Ash & Reed: Traditional Baskets, Contemporary Makers showcases the work of contemporary basket maker Lois Russell and others, and  contrasts them with historic baskets from the Society’s permanent collection. The work of these artists is grounded in the use of natural materials, including brown ash, black ash, hickory, willow and reed. Contemporary Nantucket baskets will be shown as well.

The contemporary basket makers on exhibit recognize the rich history of American basket making in their artistry and innovative designs.  Lois Russell twines waxed linen into vessels that are sparingly used but delight with recognizable, sculptural forms.

More information and exhibit hours can be found at the Wilton Historical Society.

Danielle Bodine in Fiber Art Now Magazine

NBO member Danielle Bodine is featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Fiber Art Now: “COLOR, TEXTURE, FORM: The Sculptural Basketry of Danielle Bodine,” artist profile by Adrienne Sloane.
“Basket making is one of the oldest crafts of humanity. I like to think I’m part of this long tradition of expression. There is something very elemental and meditative about  process of creating a basket.” -Danielle Bodine

Shown here, “Alien Fruit Basket” from her Outer Space Series.  More at Danielle Bodine’s website. 

Matt Tommey in Rapid River Magazine

Matt Tommey - Nested in Laurel

When asked to describe his work, Matt responded, “I describe my work as nature inspired sculpture that uses basketry and a variety of unique surface and assemblage techniques as my language of expression. I’m not sure where that puts me within the contemporary art world. Quite honestly, I don’t give that a lot of thought. I try to make things that I love and that resonate with my clients that originate within the simple elegance of the natural world. That process has served me well over the last 23 years as a maker.”

Full article here on Rapid River Magazine

2015 – 2016 NBO Annual Appeal

What an exciting year it has been for the National Basketry Organization! Since coming on as President, I have been a part of the continued momentum, started by our past President Lois Russell. It is a true pleasure to see the maturing of our organization and the achievement of ambitious goals, working committees and the continued efforts toward fulfilling our mission of promoting the art, skill, heritage and education of traditional and contemporary basketry.

With your help, big things were accomplished this year: We

  • planned and held a conference
  • executed three major exhibits
  • produced an instructional DVD
  • established and worked with a Guild Advisory Committee
  • hired a new part-time Executive Director

Pam Morton, our new Executive Director, is excited to usher us into the new year. Our Board is strong and already planning for our 2017 conference. We have many new projects in the making to serve, connect, support and showcase our diverse culture of basket makers. Planned for this coming year are: increased scholarship monies, increased information about regional and national workshops, online access to images, Guild connections, more instruction and more resources.

And it is YOU, our members, that make this all possible – Thank You!

As an organization we are in an incredible period of growth. It is a new and exciting era. But it all takes money and support from our members to sustain our forward momentum. From your own experience you know that NBO can change an artists work whether through attending our biennial conference, as you have, learning a new technique in our Quartery Review magazine, or making new connections through our website. Whatever your experience, I hope you will want to extend it to others.

We need your continued support. Please donate to help us continue this critical work.

With your help, we can continue to grow, be a national presence and be a viable, active force in the basketry community. THANK YOU for anything you can give. Your support is vital!

With appreciation,
Emily Dvorin, President

To donate online click here and visit our Online Shop

If you prefer, make your check payable to NBO and mail to:  PO Box 1524   Gloucester MA 01931-1524

Donna Crispin Weaves New Baskets from Old and Natural Materials

Seaweed on the beach, cattails in a ditch, grapevines on a trellis, bark on a birch tree — it’s all ancient art waiting to happen for longtime basket weaver Donna Crispin of Eugene, Oregon.

With a BLM permit, she may pull bark off a cedar tree — sustainably, of course — and weave it into a brownish red hat. She turns cattail leaves into a cooking apron, and blends twigs from red osier dogwood and willows into a random-weave basket with brown and cream tones. Even after 29 years of weaving, she never tires of creating baskets and art from natural materials.

“There’s always something new to learn,” Crispin says. “It seems there are new techniques I haven’t discovered yet, a different rim or a different start.

Read more here at the Register-Guard newspaper.

Willow Weaver Crafts a Life at Rose Hill Willow Farm

NBO member Howard Peller was recently featured in an article in the Daily Jeffersonian newspaper of Cambridge, Ohio. Peller grows about 50 species of willow, harvests it and creates baskets and containers of all kinds. He also sells willow for cultivation and fence-making.

Read more here: The Daily Jeffersonian