I started paying attention to baskets in high school when I needed to carry books to class. I took my first basketry class in England in 1979 and have been making baskets ever since. The English class was part of the London City and Guilds course and it gave me a strong foundation in traditional basketry. As well as learning the English tradition, I have studied with master Basketmakers from Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Italy. Each has a different approach and variation in techniques. By working as a contemporary American basket maker, I can choose from the different traditions to create the effect I want for a particular basket.
I also enjoy working in Native American traditions using cedar bark and have taken workshops from Makah and Haida Basketmakers. I gather my own cedar bark and have the satisfaction of doing the whole process of collecting, preparing, and weaving the material. I learned the process of wrapped twining and making “Sally bags” from Theresa Ohno, who learned from Mary Schlick, who learned from Julia Sohappy a Yakima woman. I use the technique to make patterns based on Celtic designs and mathematics patterns.
I am currently living in Nanaimo, British Columbia. While walking in the neighborhood, a friend pointed out the New Zealand flax plants. That led to a new material to work with, and another culture’s tradition to explore. I learned most of my flax basketry from internet videos by flaxworx.
I have been teaching basketry since 1983. I worked for many years at The Basketry School in Seattle teaching willow baskets and also baskets made from cedar bark, bulrush, rattan, and even seaweed. I have taught workshops in Indiana, Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, and California. From 2001-2014 I taught art to Middle School students in Spokane Valley, Washington and was able to include basketry and weaving in the art curriculum.
For more information, please contact me at DebBasketmaker@gmail.com