Today is my birthday and what a way to celebrate by coming home! I've just returned from an 8 day trip out west to teach basket weaving classes for the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild in Oregon and the Bay Area Basketmakers Guild in Berkeley, California. Although it was a long trip, I really enjoyed my time out there making new friends and teaching the techniques and materials I love.
Most of my favorite basketmakers are from the North West United States and include people like Katherine Lewis, Polly Adams Sutton, Judy Zugish and many others. Out there, most makers are really into natural materials like I am including cedar bark, kelp, sea grasses and lots of other really cool materials. That's absolutely not the case back east, so every time I go out west, I feel a real kinship to these makers.
My first set of classes was for the CBBG Retreat held at Camp Magruder in Rockaway Beach, Oregon, about 2 hours west of Portland right on the coast. In fact, every morning, I would walk down to the rocky coast to get my head together for the day. Each class had 12 students and the first day I taught a beginning twined vessel using kudzu, iris leaves and poplar bark. The next day we moved into more advanced techniques, exploring the "x" stitch with copper, mimosa, kudzu and poplar bark. On day 3, we ended up with a kudzu and poplar bark double walled pod. That was Thursday - Saturday.
Sunday morning I got up and drove all day long to explore the Oregon coast. Needless to say, it was fabulous! Here's some images below for you to enjoy.
Monday I did another fun thing for myself and ended up taking a one-on-one workshop with master bamboo artist, Charissa Brock. She was a protege of the famous Japanese bamboo master, Jiro Yonezawa and is really more of a sculptor than a weaver. Regardless, she showed me the ropes and helped me hone my skills.
Tuesday and Wednesday I ended my trip in Berkeley, California at The Caning Shop, teaching about 20 students who are all members of the Bay Area Basketmakers guild. I repeated the 2 advanced baskets from Oregon and again, had an incredible time. During my stay, I was lucky enough to stay at the beautiful Berkeley home of renowned fiber artist, Yoshiko Wada.
So, after a long trip, I hopped a redeye flight last night from San Francisco and ended up back here in Asheville at 9:15am. It was a very memorable trip and I'm so thankful to everyone who made it possible.
If you're interested in taking a basket weaving class from me, check out my class schedule. In addition, if you have a guild that would be interested in hosting me, I'd love to talk to you. Just email me at email@example.com
Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.