I was cruising through the internet doing research and I ran across a very interesting YouTube video on black ash basket making. The video brought back fond memories of my grandparents, grandmothers, aunties and even my brothers. I remember watching my grandmother and one of her younger sisters, another of my grandmothers, sitting on the floor splitting the ash strips and visiting. I also remember watching my grandmothers weaving the baskets on hot summer afternoons as they sat under an old tent topping. My grandfather would harvest the black ash tree, pound the ash and whittle the handles for some of the baskets.
I also have vague memories of my grandparents basket stand out front of their house on highway 12 near Wisconsin Dells. It was small lean-to that held the baskets for sale. We weren’t allowed in the stand so I remember looking in from the doorway at all the baskets.
My brothers were taught how to harvest the black ash tree and how to pound the log to remove the strips of wood. Eventually even my husband was taught how to pound the ash log. It is hard work!
Funny how a different path was offered to me by Spirit, to be a drum maker, rather than a basket maker. Unfortunately, the last basket maker in my family Crossed Over, Walked On, a few years ago, my oldest Aunt, and with her passing our family knowledge of black ash basket making was diminished. My mother knows how but chose not to make baskets but to do beadwork. Hmmm…another blog article in the wings. I hope you enjoy the YouTube video below.