I have a thing for baskets. There is something magical yet practical about them. They wrap around the fabric of space and enclose it, making something like a new dimension inside. A basket with good proportions is like a statue of a Greek goddess: full of voluptuous curves and too gorgeous to take your eyes off of. You want to reach out and touch it. Conversely, statues aren’t made for touching but baskets are, they are meant to be held and felt and embraced. Indeed, their textures are half of their charm. That is why pictures can’t do them full justice. It is like taking a picture of a soft glove, it is pretty to look at, but its true nature is revealed when you slip it on your fingers. Baskets are the same way, engineered for the human hand and meant to be held by it.
And they are incredibly practical. Baskets are containers at their heart. As I ponder the Stone Age life, I become aware of how important containers are. You take containers for granted until you don’t have a place to store your food and water. They are a force multiplier: you can carry more, store more, protect more, survive more. Shoot, many primitive shelters are simply big baskets turned upside down that you can live in. That is why I consider basket making a must-have skill, once you learn it, you can morph it into so many different applications and make your life a lot easier.
My goal is to make my baskets from the native plants found around my home, just like the Stone Age people who lived here first. Trouble is, the plants I need either can’t be found, are on private property, or are in state or national parks. In every case, they are not accessible to me for my use. My sloution? I am going to use my Agricultural Age skills to grow my own basket supplies. That way I can do what I want.
I started my basket garden with plants from Nopalito Nursery. I planted the top four most commonly used plants based on my research. The are willow (Salix exigua, I think) , deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), skunk bush (Rhus trilobata), and juncus (Juncus textilis). Rick and Antonio were kind enough to order them for me, even though some were hard to find. I have attached pics of the Big Four.
P.S. If you like this kind of stuff, I HIGHLY recommend you make a pilgrimage to Nopalito (4107 E. Main Street Ventura, CA 93003, (805) 844-7449, Nopalito’s website). They host really cool workshops too. I’m not getting paid to promote them, I just think they are really cool guys and I’d love to see their business grow.