How long have you been making baskets?
Since the early 1990's when I was a student at the University of Georgia. For more on my story, check out this page called "The Artist".
Do you harvest all your own material for your baskets?
Yes. One of the reasons I have been connected to basketry for so many years is the deep connection I feel with the materials. I harvest bark in the spring and summertime and all vines and branches in the fall and winter time. The only thing I can't harvest is copper, however I do tromp through the metal yard and harvest degraded copper wire, sheet and other treasures.
Do you teach classes on basket weaving?
Yes. Almost since I started making baskets back in the early 1990's people wanted to know how I did what I do. So, I've always loved teaching - sharing my love and passion for basketry with others. I usually teach 3 or 4 times a year at my studio in Asheville's River Arts District. In addition, I'm available to teach at basketry guilds, conventions, retreats and folk schools. My teaching has taken me all over the southeast as well as New Mexico, New York and other cool places. If you're interested in taking one of my classes, check out my Workshops page. If you're interested in having me teach a class for your guild, conference or school, just shoot me an email via the Contact page.
"Im glad somebody finally found something to do with Kudzu!"
Lord have mercy, if I had a dime for every time I have heard this over the years, I might have stopped weaving years ago! Honestly, I've had a love affair with kudzu since the early 1990's. Someone once told me that kudzu was just looking for the right relationship. I believe that's true and in me it's found a long term relationship.
Kudzu came to America in the late 1880's as a part of the World's Fair. It was used in the 1920's and 30's as erosion control, cattle feed and was thought to be a wonder plant. By the 1960's it was the scourge of the south and unfortunately, many people just wrote it off. However, for thousands of years in Asia it's lived up to it's reputation as a wonder plant - being used as a common thickening agent in food (kudzu root), a leafy salad (leaves), a spinnable fiber for textiles (young kudzu fiber) and a fiber for basketry like I use it.
Where did you learn to make baskets?
I am completely self taught. That being said, along the way I've read a lot of books and am just naturally crafty, woodsy and curious. Basically, i just kept at it, kept experimenting and kept believing that what I was doing was important. Important as art and for my own soul.
Several makers along the way have had a major impact on my work including Regina Hines, Michael Davis, Billie Ruth Sudduth, Polly Adams Sutton, Ane Lyngsgaard, Jennifer Heller Zurick, Lissa Hunter, John Garrett, Dororthy Gill Barnes, Jo Stealey, Lois Russell, Aaron Yakim and if I keep listing people I'll keep forgetting others. Needless to say, I stand on the shoulders of many great makers who have gone before me and prepared the way.
Are you a part of any professional organizations?
Yes, I am a juried member of the prestigious Southern Highland Craft Guild and National Basketry Organization. In addition, I'm a juried member of the WNC Design Guide, a curated group of Western North Carolina's finest artists.
Where do you sell your work?
I mostly sell directly to clients through retail fine craft shows, private acquisitions and through my studio and gallery in Asheville's River Arts District. You can drop by or make an appointment with me to see my latest work all year round. For directions and studio hours, check out the Contact page. For a list of my retail shows, check out the Shows page.
I'm also honored to be represented by some of the best fine craft galleries in the country, namely Grovewood Gallery, Van Dyke Jewelry & Fine Craft, The Allanstand Craft Shop, Craft Gallery of the Southern Highlands, Bennett Galleries and The Copper Fox.
How to galleries and fine craft shops find out more about carrying your baskets and other work?
I'll be honest, I'm very discriminating when it comes to the galleries that carry my work. It has to be the right environment for high-end fine craft sales and the right relationship with the store owners and managers. That being said, I'd love to talk to you about it! Visit my wholesale page to find out more and make an inquiry.
How do determine your prices?
When you purchase a piece or collection of fine craft from an artist or gallery, you're not just buying that piece of art. You're investing in the creative community and economy. You're saying that what we do as artists is important, that you value our contribution to your life and culture and that we should do more! That may sound lofty but it's true. Artists need collectors and clients. Otherwise, we just have a hobby.
As artists, we need to make a comfortable living wage, just like you do. Most professional tradesmen like skilled carpenters, electricians and the like make around $30-$75/hr for their work. I try to work within that range as well.
Additionally, baskets are one of the last completely hand-crafted fine craft items left in our culture. Almost everything else has some sort of machining or mechanical component to it's manufacturing process. That being said, it takes a lot - I mean ALOT of time to do what I do. Let me explain by walking you through the steps of making one of my baskets:
My baskets are fine works of art. They are primarily sculptural in nature and not meant to be used functionally. Someone once said "These baskets are to hold your attention, not your stuff." I agree. Just like people invest in fine paintings or sculpture, these baskets are the same - an investment in fine art that will last for years to come.