Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Weave a Pine Needle Basket for A Unique Easter Keepsake

      Below, I've included an article from 1898 describing two sisters that made their living from the meticulous crafting of pine needle baskets. These baskets were first crafted by indigenous peoples long ago but American women soon learned the art of weaving these little beauties during the late 1800s. Pine needle baskets are still highly sought after by collectors today; perhaps you may find  inspiration here to continue the art of weaving a few treasures for your friends and family this Easter? 

Basket Making for Profit, Two New York Girls Have Discovered a New Road to Fortune Which Other Women May Follow, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 1898
      If you have ever bought a basket of candy in Mexico your attention has no doubt been attracted to the dainty basket as much as to the sweets. The Indians and Mexicans and the "cracker" women of the mountains of the South are expert basket makers, but it is only quite recently that a young woman of New York, trying to solve the difficult poroblem of how a woman may support herself, was attracted to this employment.
a pine needle basket
      While visiting at Aiken, S. C., Miss Mabel Compbell and her sister Stella observed the pretty baskets made of pine needles that were sold at the hotel by the country women. Miss Stella made a little basket after spending a day with the women who taught her, and before she left Aiken became quite expert. The following year Miss Mabel went out West, 'way out in the Indian country, as teacher in a family. The Indians in the neighborhood made many beautiful baskets. At Christmas she sent her sister Stella the prettiest basket to be found. Miss Stella was a typewriter, but disliked the work very much. She suggested to her sister that she learn all she possibly could concerning the making of the baskets, which she did, and also about the curing of the grasses, and in fact, invented many patterns of her own. She forwarded her sister a dozen of the baskets which she had made herself, and a lot of colored grass, in order that she might try her own hand at the art of weaving. Miss Stella combined the Indian and Southern material into a basket of an original design, which she sold to a florist for a good price. Afterward Miss Campbell went to Asheville, N. C., and pursued her quest for information concerning basket making. She returned to New York to find her sister had lost her position, her employer having gone to the war. Florists were consulted, and their orders were so large that it was decided to give all their time to the work.
      A month ago they were obligated to engage a young woman to assist them, and they regard the business as in quite a flourishing condition. They have many more orders on hand than they can fill at present. The baskets are in great demand in other cities than New York--in fact, the largest order they have had to fill came from Washington-and the baskets will be used wherever flowers or fancy candies are sold. They anticipate orders from Chicago and Boston. When the winter season begins it is probable that they will take several girls into their employ, and will be obliged to go into larger quarters. Their summer home is a cottage in the Adirondacks, and they work in an ideal way, out on the veranda, or even taking the work into the woods, sometimes staying for several days at a time.
      A party of young ladies visited them the other day, and, while it was impossible to fill the order they wished to leave, a bright suggestion of one of the girls was well received. She said she would like to take a course of lessons in the art of basket-weaving to add to her other accomplishments, embroidery and painting. Miss Campbell thinks it will be profitable to have classes in New York this winter.
      Miss Campbell, when asked if the work is hare, shrugging her shoulders, said that she had never seen anything worth while that was not hard. There is some drawback to everything, but this work is not so confining as other work taken up by women. It can be accomplished at home for one thing, it is clean, and it does not strain the back or muscles. It must be learned like everything else, the principal requirement being the ability to invent new shapes. Miss Campbell and her sister have found it pleasanter and much more remunerative than either teaching or typewriting, those occupations most affected by the women who are not so fortunately situated as to have homes of their own and a competency.

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