If you’ve ever wondered whether anyone today can make baskets with the kind of craftsmanship the Shakers employed, look no further than JoAnn Catsos of Ashley Falls, Massachusetts.
She and her husband sustainably harvest their own splint from black ash trees on their property, and she makes her own wooden molds, handles and rims for each basket. As explained on her website, “Twenty years ago, her baskets were based on traditional Shaker and native New England utilitarian styles; while the clean lines have remained, her baskets have evolved into smaller, more finely woven, intricately patterned vessels.”
The word vessels is indeed almost better able to capture these works of art than baskets. They are truly exquisite.
Fortunately, if you want to try your hand at this sort of basket-making, you can order black ash basket-making kits from JoAnn and/or find your way to one of the many workshops she teaches around the country. Enroll in one of her workshops while you still can: JoAnn plans to cut back her teaching schedule and focus more on increasing sales of her finished works and kits, investing her savings and match from the Assets for Artists program in that new strategy. We’re excited to see where it leads her.