Sunday, October 30, 2016

Class Preview: Learn to Weave a Round Basket

Cherokee wheel detail.
By Rose James

As fall weather grows cooler and the holiday gift-giving season approaches, many of us seek new creative sparks to fuel us through chilly nights and leave us with one-of-a-kind gifts for ourselves and others. A handmade basket is a perfect fall project, and Duke Gardens instructor Lu Howard can guide you through the whole process in her 6-hour class on Saturday, Nov. 5.

The style of basket you’ll make has a Cherokee-wheel design and veneer cherry wood strip inserts. It’s a perfect basket for beginners, Lu says, because it’s simple to make. The basket is hand-shaped, meaning that you don’t use a mold, so each basket is unique.

Lu will prepare all the materials you’ll need, cutting and marking the staves and reeds in advance. But she will also teach you these preparatory steps, so that after your first basket on Saturday, you can confidently go forth and make many more.

You’ll make your basket with rattan reeds, and you will work with them wet, so be sure to come dressed in clothing that you don’t mind getting damp. Working with wet reeds makes them pliable, and when they dry they will hold their desired shape. You should be able to finish your basket by the end of class. But if you’re a more leisurely weaver, you’ll be well on your way to confidently finish your basket on your own thereafter.

Anyone can learn to make this kind of basket, and the class is open to people as young as 16. You do not need to have any skills or special artistic talent for this class, only a bit of patience. It’s actually quite a therapeutic activity, Lu says. And you’ll have plenty of time to bond with fellow weavers as your baskets take shape.

Lu uses her baskets for a variety of purposes, from storing fruit and spices in the kitchen to providing a pretty display for flower pots on the porch. We hope you’ll join us for this fun and empowering class, and we look forward to seeing the variety of baskets that everyone makes.

Class details: "Round Basket with Cherokee Wheel Embellishment" will meet Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The class fee is $50, or $40 for Gardens members. To register, or for more information, please email or call 919-668-1707.

About the Instructor: 

Lu Howard is a member of the North Carolina Basketmakers Association and Durham’s basket-weavers’ guild. She has won many awards for her baskets. She can make a small pine needle basket in as few as two hours, and she wove a bassinet for her grandson this summer over two to three weeks.

Basket-weaving is in Lu’s blood. Her grandfather was a farmer, and he would make baskets each winter from hickory. He used the baskets to harvest and store produce, as well as to hold toys and other household items.

Lu made her first basket in 1983, in a beginner class in Northern Illinois. She was immediately hooked, and she has been weaving baskets ever since.

With Lu’s enthusiasm, artistry and teaching skills, we’re sure that you will be hooked, too!

Blogger Rose James is a Duke freshman and work-study marketing assistant at Duke Gardens.  

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