Learning about Matt's Process
From time to time, groups will stop by the gallery to learn more about how Matt weaves and finishes his sculptural baskets. An avid teacher, Matt loves to share any of his weaving wisdom with visitors in the studio and anyone who is interested in learning more about basketry and how he creates his basket art.
For Matt, his craft was born from curiosity and chance. By finding a book on weaving in the University of Georgia's bookstore while working there, his love for weaving and the first steps in development of his work began. Fast forward over two decades, and Matt is still weaving, but his work has evolved substantially from his fully functional vessels to his more artistic sculptural pieces that you'll see in his studio and gallery today.
Each year, Matt teaches about five or six different classes for a small group of basket weavers of any age and skill level. From bark harvesting and bark baskets, to twining with kudzu, his classes offer a variety of interesting techniques and lessons. Each class will have a specific theme, and occasionally week long seminars will be offered, which cover a series of different themes and techniques.
Just this past week, Matt held a bark harvesting and weaving class. With a small group of only four weavers, they had a great time starting with chopped down poplar and mimosa trees. Starting with the bark harvesting on day one, the class learned to remove the outer bark from the saplings, and then peel off inner bark to store and dry to be used later. From making bark buckets later that day to learning to weave with bark on day two, the members of class left knowing where, what, and how to harvest, and then how to prepare and weave the materials into baskets - a successful class!
Beyond the Weaving
For Matt, now the weaving is just the beginning. Then comes the process of developing his weaving techniques into completed basket art sculptures. The baskets are incorporated into branches and into different sculptural shapes.
Above, this wall hanging basket art is a great example of how Matt uses commonly used weaving techniques to create something special and truly unique. Random weave and twining techniques are used by many weavers around the country and world, but what makes this sculpture basket art, is that it pushes the boundaries of how a basket can be viewed.
Bringing baskets to the wall, or adding sculptural elements like branches, metals, or found objects has brought Matt's work from the world of craft into the realm of art. These pieces are one of a kind and his style is constantly evolving as he continues to create more basket art.
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Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.