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Friday, November 07, 2008

Pine Needle Baskets and More....! By Melanie Walter

I am blessed to be part of Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts in the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington NC. I share space, fun, ideas, and creativity with 20 other artists from this area. It is my pleasure to be able to showcase some of them from time to time, and today I bring you...........Melanie Walter, creator of pine needle baskets, and owner of Pine Garden Baskets.

1.  What is the name of your etsy shop and what do you sell?  

My business name is Pine Garden Baskets. I hope to set up an Etsy shop in the near future, and its name will be the same. I make pine needle baskets. Pine needle basketry is a traditional craft with Native American origins. I make many traditional baskets from North Carolina long leaf pine needles, but recently have ‘taken it a step further’ by incorporating other materials into my work, such as stoneware clay, sweet grass, and bulrush, as well as buttons, beads and various natural items. 

2. Where are you located?  I am located in Wilmington, North Carolina.

3. Do you have your own website/store?

My own website, Pine Garden Baskets, has been in place since 2000, but I also sell my work at Port City Pottery and Fine Crafts in the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington, Cameron Art Museum Gift Shop in Wilmington, The TapesTree in Wilmington, Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash, and the Carlton Gallery in Banner Elk, NC. A few of my baskets are also located in the Timberlake Gallery in Lexington and Blowing Rock, NC.

4. How long have you been doing your craft/art and how did you get started?

I have been making pine needle baskets for approximately 15 years. I started making baskets when I bought a house that had 100+ long leaf pine trees. I thought there had to be something better to do with these beautiful pine needles than use them as mulch. I did research on the internet and found that there was pine needle basketry. I made my first basic basket by using written directions and loved it! I stopped working in my first love, pottery, and concentrated on learning how to make pine needle baskets. Now, 15 years later, I have the benefit of working in clay once again and adding those components to my baskets.

5. Who or what inspires you to create?

The colors and patterns in nature seem to inspire me the most. When I am driving, or, even sitting on my porch, I see the beauty in nature. It is the most exciting form of inspiration for me.

6. Do you listen to music when you work, and if so what kind?

Actually, I am a television freak!! I have a tv in my studio and love to watch the Discovery Channel, History Channel and Biography channel. I love to make baskets when I am learning about other cultures, historical events or people who have made a difference. But, I must admit, I also love to watch re-runs of CSI, and Everybody Loves Raymond!!!

7. What do you like least/most about your craft?

I love the smell of pine needles! When I prepare pine needles for use, they soak in hot water. When I pour the water off, the house fills with that wonderful smell!!

As far as what I dislike the most: I often use artificial sinew in making baskets. I buy it in 300 yard, 4-ply bolts. The job of separating the 4-ply material into the single-ply I use is laborious and not fun!

8. Describe your workspace?

I have one small room in my house designated as my ‘studio.’ It is packed full of basket-making material and everything else I use in my craft. My actual workspace is an old oak desk I bought at an auction many years ago. It is an old square antique desk with huge drawers and a typewriter tucked away under the top surface. This desk reminds me of one I used to see in the old television program, “Superman.” Clark Kent had this exact desk!

9. What is one of your best moments as a crafter/artist?

My best moments are when I have a new idea in my head and I see it happen in real life. Every now and then, the idea I have in my head actually comes out in my work exactly as I hoped it would. That is a great feeling!

10. What advice would you give to anyone thinking about starting their own craft business?

Even though you love your craft, remember that you are starting a business. Learn the tools you need to manage your own business. Once you have those tools, making your craft can be very exciting!

And don't forget - if you're in this area - Sara Westermark and I (Scarf It Up!) will be hosting a Holiday Show of Wearable Art at Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts on Thursday, November 13, from 2 - 8 PM. All are invited!

1 comment:

sarawestermark said...

Melanie is a wonderful artist! She is precise, particular, and deliberate in her work, AND she is so much fun to be around. I love her and her baskets!

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