Basketry continues to fascinate people, maybe now even more than ever, because of our lifestyles in the fast-lane and addiction to technology. This slow craft gives us the opportunity to unplug, reconnect with nature and use our hands and minds to create, just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years before us. It’s about community, sharing experience, skills and knowledge with other passionate people, young and old alike.
The Plant Craft Cottage Basketry Group continues to be a popular activity. We are a diverse group with some members being involved for over 30 years – that’s a lot of experience indeed – whilst others are new to the group and to the art of basket-making. We’re trying to keep the craft alive by being inclusive and welcoming to all members who want to give basketry a go. Our two newest members, Natalie Cross and Sandra Michela, have only been with the Basketry Group for a few months and have started on their first project – a rather challenging citrus basket. This is what it’s all about – inspiring others and giving people the confidence to get involved, regardless of skill. I have to acknowledge the ongoing generosity of the Basketry Group members, as they are always so positive and supportive to our newcomers – thank you!
So what do our newbies have to say?
Natalie: I am an Early Years teacher from Melbourne and I am so pleased to have joined the Friends of the Botanic Gardens and, in particular, spent time alongside the dedicated artists in the Basketry Group. My first failed attempt at basketry was at a conference in Adelaide over a year ago and whilst it piqued my interest, I realised
this was not an art that could be acquired in an hour. Conveniently, the Basketry Group meet-ups are only monthly, so I can combine the commitment with my work schedule. I went with an open mind and zero expectations to see if I would fit into this group. I was so pleased when I met such an interesting, warm, highly skilled and humorous group of basket weavers. They made me feel welcome immediately, shared some of their materials and plenty of tips on how to get started. The rest just unfolds one weave at a time, through shared experience, in a beautiful location. While I am still very new in this setting, I know that this is a place where I can grow and feel at ease while doing so. I look forward to my once a month window, when the outside world stops spinning and I am with this group, content with weaving and simply being.
Sandra: I come from Chile and there is a little town there called Rari, where villagers weave decorative items using horse hair. As a child I was always mesmerized by the intricate design and fine detail. I love the feeling of materials in my hands and the opportunity that craft provides to create. My friend Natalie invited me to try the Basketry Group with her. I had never done any basketry before, but I have always been drawn to this ancient craft. Natalie and I were received with so much warmth and excitement! I have enjoyed the intergenerational opportunity to mix and learn from different women and generations. There is such a wide range of knowledge in the room and everybody tends to support everybody else. I look forward to the third Wednesday of the month at Plant Craft Cottage, where we share lovely morning teas, basketry supplies, stories and friendship. I have been working on a basket and have learnt twining techniques and how to make a God’s eye. The main challenge I have encountered is how to position my hands to give the material the right tension. As in any craft, it requires patience and dedication, but once you get the rhythm it’s very addictive!
The Basketry Group meets on the third Wednesday every month, 10 am – 3 pm at the Plant Craft Cottage.
If you can’t make it to our regular Basketry Group meetings, why not enrol in one of the many basketry workshops held throughout the year – checkout the Friends' website for details
Lydia Beshara, Basketry Group Co-ordinator
Natalia and Sandra are pictured at a basketry session in the front courtyard at the cottage (right)