Sandra Kehoe

Basketmaker & Willow Artist

Stowe Vermont Basketry Festival classes with Jennifer Lee

This last weekend I took a trip up to Stowe, Vermont for the annual Basketry Festival.  If you are a basket maker then this is the place to be every spring.  This year the festival marked its 27th year, and I was very happy to be taking part for the first time.  The last few years I knew about this event but was never able to fit it into my schedule.

We arrived a day early at the Trapp Family Lodge where the classes were being held this year.  I decided to book at room at this hotel so my boyfriend could hang out during the day while I took classes.  We were so lucky to be able to get up there a day early and enjoy the surrounding area and the excellent restaurants the hotel has to offer. 

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We spent most of the evening walking around the grounds just enjoying the expansive views and the gorgeous cool weather.  

After spending a perfect day driving up and relaxing at the hotel I was ready to start two classes that I signed up for with Jennifer Lee.  Jennifer has been making traditional bark baskets for over thirty years and I was so excited to finally try this type of basket making.  

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The first class that I singed up for was the Motok basket class.  We were working with ash bark and I choose the biggest piece with the most ridges.  Little did I know that meant that I'd be doing lots of hard work because the bark was very thick!

We were given a bundle of spruce roots and our first task was to strip the outer layer off to reveal the smooth white inner root.  It sure was a messy job, but the payoff was well worth it. 

We stitched up the sides of the bark with the spruce root then added a rim made from fresh red osier dogwood branches.  Then we lashed it all together with more spruce roots.  

The finished product was stunning.  I was so happy I signed up for this class and the berry basket class the day after. 

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Below is a picture of the Berry Basket we made in the next class.  This time we used white pine for the sides of the basket and I choose the thinest looking piece of bark there was.  I knew far too well from the first one how difficult the thicker pieces are to work with.

Since I had practiced all the steps on the first day I felt so much more confident in what I was doing with this basket.  This gave me the time to really focus on making something beautiful, and that I did!

This little berry basket has to be one of my favorite things I've ever made.  (I know I say that about every new basket)  But this one is just perfection!!! 

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I was so happy I got to attend the festival this year and I hope that I'll be able to to next year as well.  I met so many nice women who have been attending this festival for many years and they gave me such great advice and information. 

I'm going to be anxiously awaiting the list of classes for next year!  If I see Jennifer Lee's classes I wouldn't hesitate to sign up again. 

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