Frank and Karen Sherwood have been teaching ancestral living skills for over 35 years. We have learned – and we teach – that the earth always provides for our needs. Our programs emphasize our connections to the earth and a respect and appreciation for her many gifts.
This month’s Basketry Intensive Program was a focus on traditions surrounding flat twined bags of the Columbia Plateau Peoples. Our students gained a new appreciation for the makers of these bags, along with the beauty of dogbane, as they transformed the stalks of these woody plants into soft silken fibers. These were then twined into the foundations of their bags. Students will continue twining, creating unique patterns in the false embroidery technique using dyed corn husks. Karen is eagerly anticipating student’s return next month to finish the rim and see the beautiful bags her students have completed.
This group is quite ambitious, and they are also finishing their plaited cedar tool kits as is shown in the photos. Students have done a remarkable job and taken to heart the teachings of honoring cedar and her many gifts.
Karen had such an amazing time teaching this basket in the San Juan Islands that it has been added to the 2017 schedule at Earthwalk. Start your new year off on the right weaver and join us!
Dates: January 7, 2017
Location: Issaquah, WA
This is a basket I use nearly every time I go out foraging. Its rounded belly allows it to hold much, while the flat back of the basket sets comfortably against my side. A narrowing top conveniently helps hold my harvest from escaping. Woven from flat and half-round reed, a sturdy lashed rim and riveted strap complete the basket.
Our opening session of the basketry program continued as we explored the gifts of cedar. Students began with understanding the proper harvesting seasons and ethical harvesting techniques and traditions before preparing cedar strips for their own weaving projects. They began a complex twill pattern that would then become the cover for their plaited tool kit, to be used throughout the remaining 6 months of the program. The final day of class sent us on a field excursion harvesting basket material. Dogbane, wolf lichen, and pine needles were some of the things harvested to be used in future classes. Demonstrations on dogbane preparation prepared the students for creating soft plied strands for their next project of flat twined bags. The wolf lichen, among other things, will be used to dye basket materials for an upcoming session. A fun weekend was had by all.
Path of the Hunter: Big Game Hunt
With much preparation and extensive scouting expeditions, Frank ventured to the mountains in Eastern Washington with his Path of the Hunter Program. Beautiful fall weather highlighted the trip, while the game were elusive, there was much sign to study and learn from. With the rut just in its beginning stages, the bucks were still being cautious. Despite game not being taken this particular trip, much was learned to prepare the class for future hunting trips.
Trying to rattle in a deer
Practicing Still Hunting
Being the late season, the bucks were starting to make their scrapes. A student noticed this sign above.
Karen most recently returned from teaching a basketry class to the community in the San Juan Islands. It was probably one of the most inspirational classes I have taught all year long. What a wonderful environment to blend those foundations of weaving, the elements of nature and the creativity offered there. Such a fun and focused group of people. It was one of those days that you go away from completely exhausted, and completely fulfilled.
Frank has been very busy with the start of Path of the Hunter program as well. With an intensive opening segment, students set the foundation for field hunts to follow. A field to freezer weekend offered lessons in game care, and students cleaned a wild turkey Frank hunted in the previous week. They also learned how to properly cut and wrap wild game and then made sausage for their field excursions. They then cooked up some great food to sample. Just an extra perk to the program, Frank has been busy scouting for his upcoming big game hunt with his students.
Today marks the opening weekend of the Basketry Intensive. With half the of the students traveling from out of state to attend, Karen has been so looking forward to starting off the program by sharing the gifts of western red cedar. With harvesting, preparing, and then weaving their first major project, students will be quite busy even prior to a harvesting field trip for weaving materials for next month’s class.
Thank you to everyone who made our first pack basket class such a success! Even though it was a (rare) sweltering weekend in August, everyone did a great job with their baskets. Both the August and upcoming September class sold out. We will look at the upcoming 2017 schedule to fit in some additional dates for this popular class!
In the meantime, some pictures from our August class:
Thank goodness there was a tent in the yard for some much-needed shade!
Here are students closing in on the final product…
…and with their beautiful finished pack baskets. Congratulations on a job well-done!
Thanks to a very enthusiastic response from prospective weavers, we are excited to announce that Karen’s new 7-month Basketry Intensive program begins November 4, 2016!
Earlier this summer master weaver Karen Sherwood floated the idea of a new Basketry Intensive program where students would learn not only how to weave with different natural plant materials, but also how to identify, harvest, and prepare their own materials for basketry use. She has since crafted an in-depth program that familiarizes students with the plants they use, in addition to teaching a variety of weaving, stitching, and dying techniques.
This class gives students the unique opportunity to learn basketry “from the ground up.” Classroom instruction is supplemented by field trips (including one overnight) to gather plant materials. Except for the overnight field trip, classes are held at the Earthwalk Northwest classroom in Bellevue, WA. More information about the program can be found here, and the schedule and curriculum overview are listed below.
Applications are already rolling in and class size is limited to 10 students. If you are interested in committing to this new seven-month program, please call or email us soon!
Schedule and Curriculum Overview Regular classes are held from 9 am – 5 pm. Follow-up classes are held from 6 am – 9 pm.
Cedar Plaited Tool Pouch (follow up) November 17 (Thu); 6 pm – 9 pm
Flat Twined Bag
December 9 – 11 (Fri – Sun)
Flat Twined Bag (follow up)
January 5 (Thu); 6 pm – 9 pm
Techniques of Birch Bark
January 27 – 29 (Fri – Sun)