CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Immerse Yourself in Baskets

LEARN BASIC TECHNIQUES, BE INSPIRED, AND CREATE AT CALIFORNIA’S BASKETRY AND GOURD CONFERENCES. As the only CNCH guild focusing on basketry and hand woven three dimensional sculptural design, Bay Area Basket Makers (BABM) offers beginning and advanced classes in twining, coiling, plaiting, and other techniques at their monthly guild meetings. Weavers can also take a limited number of basketry classes at CNCH conferences, including the upcoming 2015 Asilomar Conference featuring artists Shannon Weber (“The Ins and Outs of All Things, Expanding Thoughts of Random Weaving”), and Margaret Mathewson (“Wavy Willow”).
But when BABM members—both rank beginners & experienced practitioners– want to immerse themselves in new skills and projects under the tutorship of some of the best known and well respected out-of-area basket makers, they are likely to head to southern California for one of the following basketry and gourd conferences:

On May 2nd and 3rd, 2015, the Misti Washington Gourd and Basket Guild is presenting its 12th biennial conference at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Over the course of that weekend, 17 instructors from around the country will teach 29 classes, and artisans and vendors will display their creations and wares for purchase.

As in previous years, the range of classes for 2015 is considerable. Offerings include an Introduction to Sculptural Knotting (Carol E. Lang), Ornate Pine Needle Basketry (Nadine Spier), Native American Basketry (Abe Sanchez), an Appalachian-style Melon Basket with California Materials (Cookie Hansen), and gourd classes where basketry elements (couching, coiling, and twining) are woven on prepared gourd bases. For those students interested in related art forms, there is Beading on Gourds, and even a Gnome Garden Stake Gourd class!
A complete class catalog will be available online by January 1, 2015 at

Jennifer Wool's Class

Jennifer Wool’s Class

In California’s Central Valley, the biennial “Baskets and Gourds—Containers of our Culture” conference will be held the following year (2016) in Visalia with similar diverse offerings—and some of the same local teachers. ( Conference organizer and master teacher Toni Best has spent 54 years specializing in pine needle basketry. She’s found that the most effective way to teach pine needle coiling in a one day class is to have her students coil their needles onto the gourds she prepares and paints. The resulting pieces make even beginners look like pros!

Inda Victory teaching Nancy Briemle

Inda Victory teaching Nancy Briemle

Toni encourages beginners to work with unfamiliar materials and learn different techniques at the Visalia conference: “people get so excited when they see the possibilities of what can be done—and then want to do more.” Many of the same students and teachers from all over California and out-of-state come back to Visalia for successive conferences because “everyone has a good time.”   An important feature of this conference is its presentations by master teachers; in 2014, nationally renowned basket maker Flo Hoppe, author of some of the best “how to” basketry books, was the conference presenter. A perennial & popular artist at this conference is sculptor Lanny Bergner, whose “Stainless Steel Mesh Baskets” classes invite beginning students to create small “imitations” of his massive museum and art gallery installations.

Flo Hoppe's class

Flo Hoppe’s class

Having had the opportunity to attend both conferences, first as a beginning weaver and thereafter, this author can attest to the high quality teaching, openness to new students, hard work and FUN had by participants. Conference costs are reasonable, as is nearby lodging, and the conference price includes receptions and exhibits to inspire new weavers to emulate master weavers, branch out into new materials, and continue to learn different basketry techniques.
Related websites: (Nadine sells her own excellent “how to” DVDs to learn pine needle basketry, as well as needed materials on her website)
www.california (for Carol E. Lang)


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