They show up on May Day and at Easter, filled with candy or flowers. They adorn our homes and carry our possessions. Baskets made with bark and other natural elements sing spring. They can be functional containers, art and the embodiment of history and tradition. Whether hung on a wall, used for storage or filled with treats, these baskets connect practicality, heritage and beauty.
Pat Kruse of the Red Cliff Superior band of Chippewa makes Ojibwe floral baskets that radiate beauty. Some of his baskets are adorned with porcupine quills; he’s one of only three weavers working in the medium in the United States.
Similarly, Twin Cities-based artist Martha Bird is one of a handful of weavers in the U.S. to use the intricate and time-consuming perigord technique. She works primarily with willow, which she grows and harvests.
Beth Homa Kraus works in the Scandinavian tradition, using birch bark and other materials that are locally harvested (with permits). Jarrod Dahl is a lead instructor at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, and he and Jazmin Hicks-Dahl create pieces with Scandinavian and Japanese influences. Emily Derke uses local materials and traditional weaving techniques, and Teresa Audet creates baskets with coiled rope and hidden flourishes, like copper or wooden bases.
Ancient techniques inform these woven wonders, which are just a sampling of these artists’ creations. But a modern-day sensibility makes them coveted now. Tempted? See their works at local art shows, galleries and online. Or, learn from them. Many of the artists offer classes, too.
1. Three Movements willow pedestal basket, Martha Bird, $1,250, marthabirdart.com
2. Birch bark lidded basket with hand-tied wool tassel, Jazmin Hicks-Dahl, $135, woodspirithandcraft.com
3. Willow basket, Emily Derke, not for sale, emilyderke.com
4. Coiled rope basket, Teresa Audet, from $25 to $375, teresaaudet.com
5. Woven birch-bark backpack, Beth Homa Kraus, $375, homa-style.com