It has been lovely to find time to work on commissions that have been waiting on the back burner. This Woven Cedar Wall Basket was created as a mail-catching basket for a wall inside a home by the main door. We also have a basket of similar shape just inside our door which I wove thirty-some years ago. It certainly has helped us from misplacing our mail! I used inner cedar bark which I had gathered in 1993 or 94, near Poulsbo, from beautiful trees that were slated to be cut down to make a highway between Poulsbo and Silverdale, Washington. It was just by chance that I learned they were to be cut down. I happened to be researching rules and protocols for gathering plant materials from roadsides and other public places. When I called the office in charge of state highways, and explained my unusual situation of being a plant fiber weaver wishing to know the rules of public use of roadsides for gathering plant materials, the kind gentlemen told me about the plan to clear-cut and regrade several miles of second-growth 100 year old forest very near the place I live.
He granted me a permit, which was an important step in the process. The State Patrol stopped several times over the course of the two months I was gathering that year, and the permit was all I needed to explain myself.
I remember that forest so well, not only because I spent the better part of two months gathering some of the most beautiful cedar bark I will ever have the opportunity to gather, but also because I was able to extend the invitation to gather to many basket weavers. Vi Phillips, one of the founders of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild; Ed Carriere, Peg Deam, and many members of the Suquamish Tribal Community; Melissa Peterson and Deanna Gray of the Makah Nation; Polly Sutton; Patti Canoy Barrett; and so many others came to gather during that time.
I also remember how beautiful the understory of that forest was. Untouched for a century, it was carpeted with moss, Wood, Lady, Sword and Deer ferns, Rattlesnake Plantain, Bleeding Heart, Trillium, with an abundance of Evergreen and Deciduous Huckleberries, Hazelnuts, Yew trees, and Native Rhododendrons in full bloom. Yes, it was spring, and the sap was up in the trees when I was given this gift!
I almost forgot, that during that time my left wrist was in a cast since I had just undergone carpal tunnel surgery. I had asked the Dr. if it would be alright for me to “work” after the surgery. He said: “Whatever you can do with the cast on will be fine.” I wonder if he had any idea of what gathering cedar bark entails? Luckily, the cast did not hinder.