Museum hosts double-walled Cherokee basketmaking demonstration
Appeal Staff Writer
It starts with strings of reeds in a cross-shaped pattern. Over the course of the day, those reeds are slowly woven around and around to form a basket.
It seems simple, but as the 15 people attempting it at the Nevada State Museum on Saturday would tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks.
The chance to make a double-walled Cherokee basket came during a demonstration by Letitia Kendrick of the Great Basin Basketmakers.
“They work at it and when they finish it, they are so proud they do the ‘I’m finished’ dance,'” Kendrick said.
Kendrick has been a member of Great Basin for five years, after her own love of baskets prompted her to join the Reno-based club.
“I’ve always liked baskets. I’ve bought them and collected them and I’ve always wanted to know how to make my own. Now I do,” Kendrick said.
There are three general techniques used to make baskets: twinning, plating and coiling. The double-walled basket is created using the twinning technique.
Claudia Knous, of Carson City, said she had a basic understanding of how to use the technique but took the class to learn how to make the baskets double-walled.
“I wanted to learn how to change techniques and go around the outside to add another layer,” Knous said.
After hours of work, two-inch tall baskets of all colors and shapes began to emerge.
Once the skeleton of the basket is created, moistened reeds are threaded between the skeleton rods to make its walls. It’s a process that comes easier to some than others.
“A lot of times people get so involved with it that they pull everything so tight,” Kendrick said. “There are all ability levels, some get it easier than others but they can’t do anything wrong that I can’t fix.”
The demonstration is one of four taking place in conjunction with the “Interwoven: Visions of the Great Basin Basketmakers” exhibit in the museum’s changing gallery through Aug. 7.
“Everyone’s ancestors made baskets, there wasn’t plastic back then,” Museum Curator of Education Deborah Stevenson said. “I think it’s fantastic for people to have the hands-on activity in addition to the exhibit.”
From 1-3 p.m. July 13, Margaret Marshall will demonstrate pine needle basketmaking and then from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 15, Karen Rosselli will present a workshop on mini burden baskets.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.