A beautiful, large black ash splint basket with natural and dyed pink curls, this was found in Michigan but had traveled over from the Maine/Quebec area. The Wabenaki tribes there, such as the Passamaquoddy, have revived traditional basket-weaving, forming the Maine Basketmakers Alliance in 1993 to preserve and teach basket weaving. This basket is possibly one made by one of the members of the Alliance.
The splints used to weave this basket are hand cut of varying widths, rather than machine made in uniform widths. None of the splints have the "hairy" look that machine made splints do, where the wood fibers are not smooth, but stand up away from the splint. The rim on this basket is wood, wrapped with narrow splint rather than nailed or stapled. The hand-carved wood handle with its center notch is attached to the basket by piercing the rim, its long arrow-shaped tongue flat against the inside of the basket.
The fancy-work curls are splints that are bent back 90 degrees. The sets of four curls alternate in color and form flower designs. One of the natural curls has a chipped edge and one of the pink curls is missing (we've shown these; both are in the same photo).
The basket is slightly out of round, measuring 15 inches across the top in one direction and 14 inches the other way. The interior of the basket is 7 3/4 inches deep and the overall height is 14 inches with the handle. The basket weighs 1 pound 3 ounces and other than the damage to the curls mentioned above, it's in excellent condition and is a wonderfully decorative and useful basket.
>> Black ash (or brown as it's known in Maine) is unique in that "once its bark is removed, the tree can be pounded along its length until the growth rings separate, producing perfect ash splints that can then be planed and split and resplit, producing pliable yet durable weaving material as wide as a man’s belt or as fine as dental floss. " (Quoted from: "Rising From the Ashes" Northern Woodlands Magazine, December 5, 2014).
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