Since graduating from college with my BFA I’ve been looking for ways to continue my education in the fields that I love the most— natural dyes, basketry, and working with natural, wild crafted materials to make fine art. Well, for the next few months I have moved from the wintery and freezing cold Hudson Valley to Asheville North Carolina to do an internship with basketry artist Matt Tommey. He works with local barks and vines to create beautiful and unique sculptural basket pieces. So far I’ve been learning a ton and wanted to post a few pictures of the experience so far. I’ve rekindled my sketchbook/photography practice and am loving it! This internship has made me take a look at what kind of artist I really want to be and how I’m going to get there. I’ve stepped back into the practice of thinking of my work as fine art and sculpture and am excited to see what I come up with! My goal is to complete a series of 10 or so pieces in a series as well as practice baskets galore to get familiar with various techniques. Hopefully I’ll have some tutorials and advice by the end of this, but for now I am concentrate mainly on learning! If you want a great intro into kudzu basketry, working with vines in general, and on harvesting tree bark to use in baskets then follow this link to Matt’s website! He’s got some great stuff and you have to see his baskets. They are phenomenal.
I’ve also been having a ball with pinterest collecting images of inspiring baskets. Here is my site if you want to see some gorgeous baskets both contemporary and older.
This first set of three photos is my process in making a random weave form. First I did some sketches of forms inspired by hanging bird’s nests and other nest forms. Then I constructed an armature using kudzu and filled it in using all sorts of barks and vines. Poplar, kudzu, honeysuckle, grapevine bark, red osier, and anything else on hand. My favorite part was adding strips of leather. They really softened it up and added some nice color. Next step is to find or construct a branch to hang it from and I’m done!
Adventures in kudzu harvesting! Here is Dave retrieving a huge kudzu vine for Matt to use. Normally the runners are the best part, but the giant vines can also be split and used for different projects. There is also a picture of split kudzu and my first kudzu basket at the bottom!
And a beautiful view of the river down the street from my house here. Today it was snowing and the sun was shining all at the same time. Very beautiful and a fitting end to my day off. : )