Basket Reflection

I am flying after three months of travel only by car. It feels weird and yet so familiar. This year I have flown more air miles then ever before, though how many I don’t care to track down at the moment. It has included multiple trips back and forth from Alaska to the East Coast, along with several places in-between, a trip to Belize, and around the world to Mongolia over the summer not just once but twice and with stops along the way. 

As the year is drawing to an end, I am drawn towards the beginning of 2019, with thoughts of what would I like to create and how do I want to live my life this next year? I have gratitude for all of the travel and experiences of 2018, I have gratitude for new friendships formed and time with friends and family. I have gratitude for everyone who took classes with me this year, what beautiful baskets were made and what an insight they are into how we each live our lives, if we only choose to look.

I look…. I choose to look at the strands and fibers that I weave my life out of. Which ones do I use for support and which ones are part of the pattern right now? Which aspects do I want to carry through even if its not showing in the pattern on the outside right now? There is a lot of choice in basketry, and in our lives. The constraint for a basket is in part what materials I use, but mostly it is the question of “what do I want to use the basket for?” The use, or the need, is my constraint. Materials can be adjusted for different needs, I can make a delicate cedar basket, or a large cedar pack basket, I only need to adjust the preparation of the material for my needs. For a small cedar basket I might use 1/4” wide strips of thin bark, while for a large cedar pack basket I will 1” wide strips of thick bark, it all depends on what I want the basket to hold.

So how do I let basketry teach me about my life? I listen, and look closely, letting the journey of making a basket be a reflection of my life. I have made a lot of Sally Bags this year in my travels. A Sally Bag is a twined basket, traditionally made by the Native People of the Columbia River Basin with dogbane and willow bark. This soft sided basket was used during the harvest and storage of roots from desert plants. Over time the People were adaptable and made their baskets out of other materials as they became available, like cornhusks, burlap, cotton, and wool. The technique is called full turn twinning, and it can be used to create intricate patterns. 

Patterns…. patterns are easier to see when they are outside of ourselves. 

A pattern I noticed in my basketry recently is that I don’t give myself the time to decide on what pattern I want to create before starting a basket, I’m just in a hurry to start. I decide the pattern as I go, and chose the color to add next once I am at the transition. I like the pattern when I am done, but I am curious about that as a reflection of my life. Where am I in such a hurry to live my life that I don’t stop and allow myself the space to feel out what pattern I want in my life? How often do I focus on making my life look good to the external and let the inside be a mess for awhile before tending to my internal space? And what is my fascination and love of basketry about?

I love baskets because of space, not outer space, but inner space. Baskets create a space for things to be gathered and held. They are a container that can be beautiful and functional. 

Space…. where can I create space in my life? I can pause, allow for time between things and not just rush from one thing to another. Something I like about plane travel is that there is a lot of space, I arrive at the airport 1.5 hr early so that I can get through security and then there is still time before my flight, I get on the plane and wait for take off, wait for cruising altitude, wait to land, wait to get off the plane, and then wait and repeat for the next leg of my flight. Its up to me what I do with that space, that time of waiting. I could involve myself with social media, books, movies, music, or even people watching. Or can I make a different choice?

Choice…. Can I sink into the quietness of my own mind and let my thoughts roam across the inner landscape that is my space, my place, always there when I choose to look? Can I hold the space to discover and gather the pattern I desire in my life?