Ponderosa pine trees are pillars of the Inland Empire ecosystem and so have always represented Spokane to me. Their needles are long, sturdy, and beautiful making them a wonderful medium for basketry. When I’m working on these baskets I feel close to the trees and the natural world they represent. I pair these needles with binding that is also made from natural materials like cotton, hemp, and jute in colors that I see growing under the ponderosas. The colors of wild flowers like the blues of the bachelor buttons, the golds of the arrowleaf balsamroot, and the purples of the lupine. The addition of glass, wood, stone, and metal beads allow me another tool to represent the pine forests and our relationship to them. Like us, my pine needle baskets change and age over time, shifting from vibrant green to rich brown over the years. They stay strong but their strength transforms as they age.
I have been making pine needle baskets since I was a child. I fell in love with the medium after visiting an exhibit on basketry at a small art museum. I stared at the baskets until I had a rough idea of how they were constructed, then made an attempt as soon as I could get out into the woods. Many people associate pine needle baskets with Native Americans. I am white, not Native. While I honor the fact that pine needle basketry was developed and perfected by Native American crafts people, especially the nations in and around Louisiana, I do my best to create my own style and technique. I actively consider my actions and motivations to make sure I’m learning from the masters not creating forgeries. I encourage everyone who is interested in basketry to support Native artists.