Friday, August 21, 2015

Alaskan Baleen Basketry

When I travel I am always on the lookout for local basketry.  While recently visiting Alaska I was  looking for baskets made of cedar.  (This spring I took a class to learn to weave a basket with Alaskan red cedar strips.)  What I found were many more styles of Alaskan baskets by native artists.

In addition to admiring many beautiful baskets in the Doris Borhauer Basket Collection in Sitka, Alaska I learned about Baleen Basketry.

Baleen or "whale bone" is the tough keratin that comes from the mouth of plankton eating whales. Inupiaq native artisans adapted the traditional coiled willow-root basket style to form baleen baskets beginning in the early 1900's.  Artisans continue to create coiled baskets with this material.  Most black baleen baskets I saw in Alaska had a ivory circle base and a carved ivory decorative top to the lid. They were beautiful and skillfully made!


Check out the following website for more information on Baleen Baskets :

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Gathering Basket

 A Gathering Basket was often used to hold cut garden flowers collected for arrangements.  The long length and shallow depth of the basket allowed for flowers to be placed with out disturbing the blooms.

This basket is 15 inches long by 9 inches wide.
The basket is only 4 inches depth.  It is woven with natural flat reed and has dyed purple highlights.