Tag Archives: Basketry

gathering or collecting? (a workshop with Julia Parker)

Yosemite meadow-the Native Americans kept this area free from trees and saplings, it is now filled with trees that encroach on the meadow where materials and acorns were once gathered.

Yosemite meadow-the Native Americans once kept this area free from trees and saplings, it is now filled with trees that encroach on the meadow where materials and acorns were once gathered.

I am still gathering my thoughts here- it will take some time for them to settle in and find a place to live. but in the meantime, a few photos….

Among the very many wonderful pieces of wisdom shared at the recent basket workshop in Yosemite with Grandmother Julia Parker, her daughter Lucy, and granddaughter Ursula was the distinction between gathering and collecting.  Am I a gatherer or a collector?

Lucy explains the valley floor-how Yosemite indians tended it and kept it free of non native plants.

Lucy explains the valley floor-how Yosemite indians tended it and kept it free of non native plants.

Am I gathering things with intention of using them in the short term or collecting things to have them for some other reason-perhaps without a specific purpose?  Often we get caught up in the collecting of things-for various reasons.  But what if we only had what we needed now- in the present?  My, the world would look so much different!

bracken fern roots were carefully dug with a digging stick, dried and prepared for basketmaking.

bracken fern roots were carefully dug with a digging stick, dried and prepared for basketmaking.

sedge grass is used in many ways in basketry- here you can see sedge, bracken fern and milkweed

sedge grass is used in many ways in basketry- here you can see sedge, bracken fern and milkweed

detail of milkweed pod- the stalk is used.  these are different than the ones i grow-

detail of milkweed pod- the stalk is used. these are different than the ones i grow-

three generations- Ursula, Julia, and Lucy.  it was a beautiful experience.

three generations- Ursula, Julia, and Lucy. it was a beautiful experience.

Lucy demonstrates working with the willow under Julia's watchful eye.

Lucy demonstrates working with the willow under Julia’s watchful eye.

some of the participants finished baskets

some of the participants finished baskets-using twining technique. tule,willow and cattail. small example of a burden basket.

Other highlights of the three days include walking through the wonderful basketry exhibit with Julia herself (i’d provide you with a link but since the federal “government” is shut down there is no link!)  Just trust me- it was fantastic and walking through it with Julia and Lucy was really wonderful.  A special visit into the roundhouse where Julia and Lucy performed a special happy dance and song along with a blessing. Sitting outside under the trees making baskets while deer wandered through and hearing stories-priceless!

And on another exciting note- the first copy of Julia’s new book  , Scrape the Willow until it Sings  was delivered to her during the workshop.  We all got to look at it and it will be available soon from Heyday Books. It looks wonderful.  I had a copy of her previous book, It will Live Forever which is a wonderful introduction to not only acorn culture in Yosemite but also includes the baskets used to gather and process the acorns into food.  She graciously signed my copy.  She will be in San Francisco Oct. 20th for a book signing if you are fortunate enough to be able to go.

A basket can hold many things- food, objects, water-even thoughts and ideas. I gathered some cattail while I was at my friends cabin.  They are drying out in the driveway on top of the car (the dogs can’t get them there).

I intend to make a cattail basket when I return from Houston mid November-and fill it with memories from this time.  To use in the garden- a gathering basket. We all gave away our first baskets as tradition dictates.

There is a lot to do now to get ready for Houston.  I don’t even know where to start today….

just somewhere i suppose.

working through nature

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After doing quite a bit of walking through nature recently, I found myself wanting to move more towards working through it.  After wondering about the possibility of weaving baskets with cattail (inspired by being away), my friend sent me a link that got me very excited.  So excited, that after wondering about it for a couple of days, I signed up!  This will be the first workshop I have attended as a student.

Julia Parker, 85,  leads the 3 day workshop along with her  daughter and granddaughter. I understand there are still spots available.

“Take from the earth and
give back to the earth, and don’t forget to say please and thank you. It is the fiber and not the weaver who makes a beautiful basket.” ~Julia Parker

(The currently expanding Rim Fire in Yosemite is far away from the workshop location and park and fire officials are hopeful that life and structures will be spared.)

In preparation, I am studying a bit on the following topics: Yosemite Valley basketry, Paiute and Miwok people, among other things. I found a copy of Earth Basketry on my paperbackswap.com account and it should be here soon. I also ordered a used copy of Tending the Wild online and will add that to the study list.

I have been fascinated with California’s indigenous people for a while now. Every trip up and down the coast adds new understanding.  I have only scratched the surface but hope this workshop will add depth and more understanding.

The exact location where we stay in Mariposa was a summering home of local Miwok as noted in many historical documents as well as evidenced by the abundant granite mortar holes nearby (used as acorn grinding sites).  I have blogged about that before…here in 2007. I have spent many summers wondering about them and their lives, in this place.

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So it’s back north at the end of September for a short stay.  This means that much work must get done in the meantime since the Houston Quilt Festival is looming.  One of my two workshops is filled- the other only had two spots left as of last week (#708 Indigo in the 21st Century).  However, there are 5 spots left in the two day workshop upcoming at the Japanese American National Museum August 31 -Sept.1.  Contact the JANM to register for this workshop.