Recently I was honored to participate in the Ikebana International Regional Conference held here in Asheville, North Carolina. Having always loved Japanese basketry design and Ikebana, I hoped for a great experience.
There were over 300 ikebana artists, instructors and enthusiests in attendance and the conference at the Renaissance Hotel downtown and I was one of 9 artists selected from Asheville's incredible creative community to provide containers suitable for Ikebana.
During the one day I was at the conference, I was blown away by the wonderful reception to my work from artists around the world. They really GOT what I've been trying to do for 21 years, which is use basketry as a sculptural form, not just a functional object. Funny enough, their appreciation for the sculptural nature of my work was deepened by their desire to use my work functionally in their ikebana arrangements. I'm happy to say, I have many beautiful pieces now living all over the world!
Additionally, because of the success of the conference, the Southern Highland Craft Guild, of which I am a member, had 10 Ikebana artists do a collaborative exhibit at our recent Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands this past July. The artists used guild members to provide ikebana containers for their incredible arrangements. I was honored to have Terri Ellis Todd, a renown ikebana instructor and artist select my work for her incredible piece, pictured above.
If you are an ikebana artist, I'd encourage you to check out more of my work here on the Current Inventory page as you look for unique ikebana containers for your work.
Many people have asked me over the years how I harvest the inner bark of tulip poplar trees for my hand woven baskets. So, instead of writing an article, I thought I'd try a video. Let me know what you think!
Matt Tommey is a leader in the contemporary basketry movement and has been a maker for over 20 years. The focus of his work centers around the use of southern invasive plant species in basketry. He currently serves on the board of directors for the National Basketry Organization and is a popular teacher and conference speaker.