Basket Making - Not for Wimps!

Posted 13/09/18 in NEWS

September 14 & 15, 2013 a total of fifteen participants took part in a splint black ash cornwash basket making workshop at the Woodland Cultural Centre. Over this two day period we were fortunate to have been guided through the process by Tyendinaga basket maker Carol Anne Maracle. Thankfully all the raw materials were prepared prior to the start date, saving four days off of a labour intensive process, a big nia:wen to her husband Pat for helping with all this extra work!

The black ash splints of various sizes were, stripped, peeled and soaked in water becoming more pliable for weaving; by the end of the two days our hands were cut, scraped, callused and throbbing from the intensive work involved in making these creations.  I tried my best not to complain too much (although I did complain); I tried to keep in mind the elderly women who make these baskets on a regular basis. I’ve gained so much respect for this art form, the skill and hard work involved. I can honestly say it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever made, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

In recent decades the making of basketry from black ash has come into decline in the Six Nations area, the most recent threat are to the black ash trees themselves, an invasive pest called the emerald ash borer has decimated the black ash tree population in southern Ontario. Carol Anne made it clear that whatever we take we should give back.  This spring I plan on doing just that, I know some great wet areas on my grandma’s property where I think a black ash tree would do well,  the trees thrive in swampy wet areas, the places where you can’t cut grass in the summer because it gets too wet when it rains.

Thank-you to all those who participated in this workshop, and a big nia:wen to Carol Anne, for sharing her knowledge and talents with us over those two days.

Make sure to check out the exhibition "Weaving Together Stories", on now until October 13, 2013

For another great article about this work shop check out this Two Row Times article:

For future information about upcoming workshops at Woodland please check this site, join our emailing list, and friend the Woodland Cultural Centre on facebook and twitter!