Art From the Yard
From basic to beautiful, pine needle baskets can be functional or exotic.
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Elements from the yard can be used to create beautiful works of art. No one knows this better then Cathey Byrd. She began to make baskets after trying several other arts and then taking a basketry class eight years ago. She found that basketry kept her attention better than anything else she had tried, and that's what keeps her doing it. She has created a modern interpretation of traditional forms; sometimes they are functional, sometimes they are exotic, dimensional and inspirational.
Cathey gathers pine needles from all over her area, even her own backyard. She brings them home and cleans them with detergent and bleach. The needles are allowed to dry fully then get bundled. She begins the basket by starting a coil. The center is dampened in order to allow the tightness that will keep the basket firm. The coil is then continued by adding needle bundles as they are needed, every 2 inches or so. She also uses waxed Irish linen or wire to sew the coils together. She uses a simple stitch that anyone can master; it's a basic over/under similar to what someone would use to hem pants.
As she sews her coils together, she also adds embellishments such as beads or other natural elements. Anything that can be threaded on a sewing needle can be used. Although the coiling technique is similar to that of hand-built ceramics, Cathey says she never really knows what a piece will look like at the end: "The creation of a piece is the creation of the design for the piece." Cathey's work is unique and personal; she infuses her sophistication and wit into some of the finest pine needle basketry made today.
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