Sept 2019 - Woven paper baskets with Jackie Abrams


 We had a great workshop with Jackie Abrams over two days (she had condensed a five day workshop into two days for us). 

Jackie is an extremely experienced and competent basket tutor from rural Vermont in the US. It is her first visit to UK but she has taught in US, Australia, NZ and Africa. The cathead basket (which Jackie has developed in paper) is derived from the 19th century Shakers and named because of the corners of the base which make the basket, when turned upside down, look like the head of a cat with pointy ears.

We started by painting both sides of 360 gsm Arches watercolour paper with acrylic paint.

When this was dry, we cut it into strips with the aid of a pasta machine!The strips were two different sizes, one for the base and stakes and the thinner ones for the weavers.

We wove a checkweave base and then with the aid of lots of small pegs, we manipulated the corners and developed a cylindrical basket with the finer weavers. The weavers have to be “civilised” or stretched on one side to ease them into a round form. There are many possibilities for variants both in shape and twill weaving which Jackie explained to us, but our time was limited!

Everyone completed one basket and was developing their second. Jackie is a very principled tutor and her exact way of working, frequenting rotating round the group giving equal time to all students gave a very balanced workshop which all the students appreciated. She was more than happy to share as many tips and tricks as possible with all of us during the general discussion time. She started a dialogue about the ethics of using other people’s art/craft work which would make an interesting BA debate! Jackie does not discuss or teach her personal current body of work.

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