I made my first basket about 36 years ago, while working at the Grand Canyon. Using pine needles from the forest floor, I made my first, rudimentary coiled basket. I later wove baskets with reed, willow, bark, vines, rushes, and other plant materials, but never bamboo.
Years later, I moved to the Northwest and met Japanese basket weaver, Jiro Yonezawa. I’ve been very fortunate to learn from this patient instructor. Teaching a roomful of American women, happily chattering and weaving, must have been trying at times. However, through those workshops, I developed an appreciation for Japanese baskets and bamboo as a basketry material. We were spoiled though, because Jiro always beautifully prepared bamboo strips for us to weave with. I was learning how to weave with bamboo, but I didn’t know how to prepare it. To me, it is an essential part of making a basket, and making it all my creation.
I’ve observed Jiro preparing bamboo strips several times, but never had the opportunity to do it myself. An assortment of tools and lots of practice are required. (Japanese basketry apprentices spend about 10 years learning about bamboo and weaving before going independent .) Since I lived several hours away from Jiro, I never learned how to do it. So I diverted my bamboo interests in another direction. I found bamboo baskets at thrift shops, and cut them apart, saying I’m sorry to the basket maker at least fifty times. I studied photos of Japanese baskets in books and online, and then made my own.
My first upcycled bamboo basket:
Here are a few of the baskets I made with Jiro Yonezawa many years ago. (All strips prepared by Jiro.) There are more, but I can't find the photos at this moment.
|I made this in my first workshop with Jiro at Patty Canoy's studio. Were you there?|
Thanks for reading. It's fun to go back and look at what I've made through the years.