I made this basket last May in a workshop taught by the wonderful basket maker Judy Zugish. She has great designs and amazing willow that she has grown and prepared herself. But what I loved the most was how she encouraged creativity in all the students. No two baskets were alike, and you’d never know they were even made in the same class.
Originally, I left all the spokes at the top uncut and they completely obscured the opening. I thought of it as mysterious and liked it as a design element without quite knowing why. Then I got a critique from another wonderful basket maker Marilyn Moore who juried a show I entered the basket in. She thought that the top didn’t fit the rest of the basket which was more refined and almost classical. I did see that clearly and resolved to trim all the spokes to a uniform length. But something kept stopping me.
Then last night it finally came to me. I started clipping random spokes at less than uniform length and only clipped the ones that seemed not to fit, or stuck out too much, or were too twisted, or just “asked” to be cut. Here is the result of that. It may not be finished yet. As I looked at the photo, I could see a few more things that I wanted to do. But it is getting close to where I want it to be. Still a bit wild and unruly. But with some light getting into the belly of the basket, the sense of mystery has really only increased. As you go around the perimeter, some spaces are more open, some are more dense. There is no regularity, and that is what I am liking about it.
What made me really happy about this process was that it was one of the first times I felt that I was able to make artistic decisions about a basket in much the same way I would about a painting. Whether it works or not, whether I like it as much in a week as I do today, whether anyone else likes it, none of that matters. I had fun with the process. Taking thirty minutes to clip fifteen spokes. Time well spent, I say!