My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Meet an Extradorinary Craftswoman

While wandering from booth to booth at the Cane Grinding Festival at Okefenokee NWR, I was attracted to some wonderful functional art.  Some of it was decorated gourds that had been cut into bowls and decorated in various ways.

The gourd on the left has a drawing of the Chasser house and yard on it

Each pine cone "leaf" has been taken off a pine cone, then glued back into the pattern of a pine cone

Then I looked up at the woman  who was showing her work and realized that this was Sally, a local volunteer. She is currently running the gift shop for Okefenokee Wildlife League, the friends group of this refuge. She seems to be a quiet, but friendly number cruncher so I was blown away to see this whole other side of her.

In addition to the gourds, I was even more impressed by  her baskets.  She had two on the table and was working on another one that was attached to deer antlers. Her medium is long leaf pine needles and raffia.  This is the same medium that the Coushatta Indians, that live in East Texas and Central Louisiana use to make their baskets.  Since I went to school with some of this tribe and loved their work - even had a large basked with a lid when I had stuff - I felt a kinship with her.

This basket won first place at a local fair.

This tray tied with the pine cone gourd bowl for my favorite piece.

I lingered at the table to listen to Sally discuss with visitors how she made this gourd basket.

To make this basket.....

First make sure the gourd is dry.  Then cut the top off of it. Scoop out all the seeds and pulp.

When it looks like this, color it with shoe polish then punch holes around the neck  to hold the trim and mount the handle. Click on the picture to more easily see the holes she has started around the top. 

When the visitor left,  she went back to working on the basket in progress.  See how she is working it around the deer antlers? She uses a needle to weave the raffia around the bundles of pine needles.

I thought she must be a local person who had learned this craft from her relatives.  But she is actually from up north - I think she said Pennsylvania.  She learned to make split oak baskets when she lived up there and then took up this type of basket making and gourd decoration after she moved down here. 

Getting to meet people like Sally is one of the most exciting aspects of this traveling life. Another traveler wrote in his blog that when you travel, you don't become lonely because you have left your friends behind - you still keep up with them - but are now able to meet  lots more of the same kinds of people you enjoy.

That is certainly true of me - and sometimes I even get old friends to come visit me.

This blog is scheduled to come out right before Thanksgiving. I'm going to have Thanksgiving early since I want to go to Cumberland Island Thanksgiving Day.  I'm making only my absolute favorite parts of the traditional dinner - the turkey, the cornbread dressing, Momma Stamberg's cranberry sauce, and the pie filling which I'll just have a a pudding. I invited one of the staff over because she is cancelling her plans to travel, due to the storm.  We'll be enjoying dinner on Wednesday night.

So far, the turkey is in the brine, the cranberry sauce is freezing and I'm about to make the dressing.

Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful and that the storm doesn't stop you from your intended destinations or keep your guests away.  But either way, hope you have enough time to list all your blessings.