Handmade Black Ash baskets were once as common and important as the potatoes, corn and berries they carried. Replaced today by commercially mass-produced containers, quality ash baskets and their makers are becoming rare. Fortunately, great artists continue to share their knowledge of this thousand year-old craft. Native Americans were probably the first to make use of the Black Ash tree in this way.The Black Ash tree, also known as "Swamp Ash," is found in rare pockets of cool bottomland spanning from the Great Lakes, east to Maine, and from Virginia north through Canada, where some of the oldest weavers still practice.
Like many native ceremonies and traditions, this craft can only truly be learned first hand. There are many books on basket making but locating the "basket tree" and finding the baskets within takes experience and intuition found only in the heart and mind of a teacher.
I learned this traditional technique and more during my six year apprenticeship with master basket maker Jonathan Kline of Trumansburg, New York. Utilizing this knowledge, I continue a weave that was started long ago.