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Beginnings

One day while fishing on the Wabash river near Markle, I saw some willow saplings and wondered if I would be able to make a basket from them. I knew the Indians and prehistoric people had done so, and I remembered that my cub scout den mother, Mrs. Anderson had done a unit on making baskets. I do not remember making one. I had little patience at that age, but I do remember being intrigued by the rattan materials and the process. I cut a bundle of the colorful slender saplings.

When I got home, I fooled around with the willow saplings. I remember liking the color and the feel. I still have that first basket. I always say that it looks like what a spider would do on drugs. I guess that is pretty appropriate.

Anyway, I went to the library and got a book on basketry. The designs of most basket makers were quite intricate and detailed, and it seemed that they would be way beyond what I would be capable of doing, but I tried a few. I finally settled on the familiar egg basket, or"butt" basket. It suited the willow as that is from what they were originally made. They were pretty rugged and very simple. I soon made a few and got better. Friends seemed to like them and I sold a few. I went to some flea market type venues and combined grapevine wreaths with them and pretty soon I was making a little money.

I really needed money at the time, and the concreteness of the work helped relieved stress from my social work job.I soon moved into some local festivals, the Covered Bridge festival in Matthews, the Washington Street festival in Muncie, Canal days in Metamora.

In Metamora, I saw a guy selling willow furniture, Jeff Dawes. I was very impressed. I do not remember ever having seen rustic furniture before. I had enough experience as a carpenter to know I probably could not do what he did, but I knew where there were larger willows that could be used for furniture, and I made some small stands that combined weaving willow and nailed frames. I was off to the races!!

At some other shows I was invaded to some shows in Pennsylvania and began to get applications from larger shows. I applied and got in some and soon I was doing thirty shows a year.
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