Tuesday, December 30, 2014

JoAnn Kelly Catsos Workshop-Preview

So I started writing this post almost a month ago, which was way late, then my computer locked up and I lost 3/4ths of it. Besides being extremely unhappy that I had lost my blog post I was also freaked out that my computer was acting so strangely. Well the holidays hit in full force and rewriting my blog was way don't on my to-do list. So, here we go again with a down and dirty version. I had to get at least one more in before the end of the year.

As you may have seen in an early post I was hosting a basket workshop with JoAnn Kelly Catsos at my house in November. Well as you can see from the photo above the basement was a bit of a mess. Since Eric Taylor's class in the spring I had been busy with a myriad of projects (most of which were only half finished). I have pretty much drug every tool and project out and filled every available work space with stuff. Unfortunately this setup was not going to be conducive to hosting a class.

Well I kicked it into high gear the week before class and had everything ready to go by the time JoAnn arrived. Quite the transformation wouldn't you say? Unfortunately I won't show you what it looks like a short month later. I don't know where this mess comes from. I am convinced it is gremlins.

JoAnn's workshop was fabulous as always. For three days we worked on a lidded sewing basket and then on the forth day, either additional little cheese boats to go inside the sewing basket or a miniature. Since I had made the lidded sewing basket in the very first class I ever took with JoAnn I wanted to do something a tab bit different. So, instead of doing the quadrafoil pattern on the lid like everyone else I decided to do the JoAnn's snowflake or octafoil pattern. This meant that instead of having four petals to my clover-leaf pattern, I was going to have eight! This also meant that I was going to have way, way, way more uprights in both the lid and the bottom. If that wasn't bad enough I had to go one step farther and weave a crazy twill pattern while laying up the base of each. The basket was very fun to make, but definitely a challenge.

Typically when I am doing the class baskets I have lots of time to get up and take photos of the other basketmakers. Well, not this year. My fanny was firmly planted in my seat and I was concentrating on weaving. I did take a few photos and one of these days I will get them up on my website, JASkets.com. Fortunately some in the class snapped the picture above of me working on the bottom to by basket. Now I just need to get my photo background and lights set back up so I can take some photos of the finished basket. Oh well, that will have to wait until after the first of the year.

Which reminds me, here's to an incredible (and productive) 2015!

Happy Weaving,

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I originally wasn't going to carve a jack-o-lantern this year, I was just going to keep the pumpkins I picked up at the Hartsburg, MO Pumpkin Fest on my porch throughout October and November. So, when I got home on Sunday night I artfully arranged them outside my front door. As I left for work on Monday they were looking quite festive. Well when I got home from work, less than 24 hours after I first put them out, a squirrel had decided to eat a hunk out off one of my big pumpkins. If that wasn't bad enough, the little @&$*#( had taken a single bite of every last one of them! I mean seriously? Did it really need to bite each one? Well, fortunately it did spare one, my white pumpkin, so I brought it in to preserve it.

Really? Not even nice for 24 hours!

So, I left out the one pumpkin the squirrel(s) decided they like best and let them slowly eat the rapidly rotting mess. Fortunately they did pretty much leave the others alone. Then last night I carved the one remaining relatively good one and pitched the gunky one. At least the kiddos get a real pumpkin this year. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014 JoAnn Kelly Catsos Workshop

Saturday - Tuesday, November 8, 9, 10, 11, 2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

I am so excited to be able to offer this pair of basket workshops with JoAnn Kelly Catsos of Ashley Falls, MA. JoAnn has won numerous awards for her beautiful black ash baskets and in 1999 she was asked to weave an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree. She also was one of the first to receive the Certificate of Excellence Level I Basketmaking from the Handweavers Guild of America. JoAnn and her husband Steve produce all the weaving materials, hardwood rims and handles, and molds themselves. I hope you can join JoAnn and me for this exciting and fun class.

Saturday, Sunday & Monday
Shaker Inspired Sewing Basket with Quadrafoil Lid
9" dia. x 6" deep

This is the first basket I made with JoAnn and is actually four baskets in one. It features a cathead base with a beautiful quadrafoil lid, along with two small cheese boats (one round and one oval) to hold your sewing notions. The baskets are woven of finely prepared black ash and finished with hardwood rims. Twill experience is required for this class and due to the small size of the cheese baskets, patience and attention to detail is helpful. Materials will be mailed to participants so that the splint and rims can be sanded before the workshop.

Class fee includes all materials, handouts and use of mold, weaving stand and tools.


* * *

Miniature Black Ash Baskets (choose one)
1" to 3"

Two Additional Cheese Boats

Add two more cheese boats to your lidded sewing basket. Using a hexagonal pattern, weave a 1" round and a 1" x 3" oval out of finely prepared black ash splint. Complete your baskets with double lashed hardwood rims.
* * *

Miniature Country Bread Basket

This 2.5" diameter basket’s design is simple, yet classic. Like its 4 inch brother, it is chase-woven on a cathead mold and completed with two tiny black ash side-handles and hardwood rims.

Miniature Friendship Basket

This eye catching 2.5" diameter basket features stakes that are two different widths and is woven of black ash with three accent bands of elm bark. The tiny hardwood rims are double lashed.
* *

1" Shaker Kittenhead

This kittenhead basket is the 1" version of JoAnn’s 6" diameter Classic Cat. Basic black ash splint basketry techniques, such as forming the “cat ears,” chase weaving, notching a handle, and lashing hardwood rims, are used.
* * *

Class fee includes all materials, handouts and use of mold, weaving stand and tools.

* = easier – * * * = harder

Instructor: JoAnn Kelly Catsos

Contact: Tony Stubblefield
if you would like to receive registration information

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Having Fun Building Stuff

So in a strange twist I had two relatively free weekends recently. That just doesn't seem to happen very often anymore. I especially don't seem to have time to weave or, what is probably more accurate to say, I don't set aside time for basket making.

On the first of my free weekends I made a cute little basket from a kit I purchased from Gail Hutchinson at the Missouri Basketweavers Guild Convention a few weeks ago.
The basket is woven of American elm and walnut with white oak swing-handle and rims. Gail calls this her All American Berry Basket and it is about 5.5" x 7.5". Nearly every basket I have made over the last 20 year has been woven over a mold, so free weaving this basket was a change of pace for me.

So a couple of years ago I was reading the blog of Jim the Gentleman Crafter and saw this cool ink storage unit. It is one is designed to hold Tim Holtz Distress Ink pads and Adirondack Alcohol Ink bottles. At the time I was just starting to use Distress Ink, so didn't have that many colors, but still thought this was a pretty swift storage option.

As I added to my stash of ink pads I tried a number of different storage options, but all required lots of digging to find the color I needed. So, after getting a new router table awhile back I finally decided to try my hand at making my own. Now this was completely on a whim. I really hadn't planned on getting up and making this, so I was just working with scrap plywood, poplar, pine and maple I had on hand.

I wish I would have taken some step-by-step pics, but I was in the zone and kind of adding pieces without a real plan. I just knew that I wanted it to hold 48 Distress Ink pads, anything else was just a bonus.
Here it is after the first day of work. I figured I would sleep on it and mull over what I wanted to do next.

The next morning I had a bit more of a mental plan of where I wanted to go next. I didn't have a lazy Susan spinner part, so would have to make a run to Home Depot for that. I decided that I would use spray paint to prime and at least give it a first coat of black paint. Typically I would use black acrylic paint for a wood project like this, but there were just so many nooks and crannies that the thought of brushing the whole thing was daunting.

The black spray paint I picked up at Home Depot, even though it was supposed to be semi-gloss, was really shiny. Even so, it covered well, so I wasn't going to need to give it a coat of acrylic. I knew I wanted to distress the piece, so was going to sand through some of paint along the edges, but with the way the paint looked I was going to have to sand every square inch. Ugh.

I have been collecting old yard sticks for awhile now for some future project and this seemed like the perfect place to use them. A lot of the yard sticks are advertising items, so have cool writing on them. I was a bit nervous about cutting them up so measured and hand cut each section as I went.

Here is the "final" assembly, painted, sanded and waxed (I may add more stuff at some point).

As I said, I was just adding pieces as I built it, so I didn't plan any of the extra spaces to hold anything specific. The only thing I knew from the beginning was that it needed to hold the 48 colors of Distress Ink pads. If I had known what I know now I would have made the top and corner spaces a hair bigger, then four reinkers would have fit in each corner cubby and six stacks of Archival pads instead of four would have fit on the top deck.

I was so pleased with how the spinner turned out that I was already thinking about how I could make one of these for a couple of my stampin' buddies. I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook and had a nice response. Then my friend, Jim Hankins (The Gentleman Crafter), shared it on his own Facebook page and the interest exploded. I need to make another prototype with the revisions I want to incorporate and figure out how much the raw materials will cost.

Hopefully I will be able to offer them to others. Now just to find some more of that elusive free time ...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Basket Lover

Pearl loves baskets as much as I do. I find her sitting in this vintage Native American black ash basket all of the time. It was probably made in the Great Lakes area and features double swing handles with a "pig tail" loop hinge.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pretty as a Picture

So I don't even like tomatoes (at least a raw tomato), but boy were these pretty at the Tower Grove farmers market.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

McCoy Icicle Planter

I have never seen one of these before. It is a McCoy planter in a pattern called "icicle" or "icicle drip". The icicle part of the planter is unglazed, so contrasts with the shiny blue base. I saw it at an antique shop and passed it by at first. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so had to go back the next day. Fortunately it was still there. I thought it was the perfect planter for a succulent, so it now resides on a shelf in my bathroom, where it looks great with the blue tile on the walls.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Wool Felting and Dying

As many of you may know, I love to search for thrift store wool blazers and sweaters. I felt the wool in my washing machine (careful, you can clog your drains with a wool hairball doing this) and then use it for various craft projects. I used to search and search to find cool colors, until one day the light bulb went off and I realized I could just dye light colors myself. Duh?
 Dying some chartreuse. Green is my favorite color.
 Here is the wool after dying and drying. I was sooooo happy with how the color turned out.
Besides green, I also dyed some purple, yellow and orange. Though the orange didn't work very well. I am not sure why as I used that same dye before with great results.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gypsy Caravan

A t-shirt I saw at the Gypsy Caravan.
Every Memorial Day St. Louis hosts a huge flea market called the Gypsy Caravan. The location has changed over the years as has the size of the event. For the past quite a few years the flea market has been located on the campus of UMSL (University of Missouri-St. Louis). The vendors were spread over two parking lots and a parking garage. This year it moved way out to the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO. This was a horrible decision on the part of the organizers. There is only one narrow road coming into the venue and the parking was almost nonexistent. Fortunately for us we had purchased early bird wrist bands so we could shop two hours before the general public. Since we arrived at 6:30 in the morning we parked right up by the entrance.

In anticipation of some great shopping this year I purchased a collapsible wagon. This was a great move so that we could keep our hands free to dig for treasures. Unfortunately we didn't take into consideration that we would need to park the big ole wagon somewhere while we shopped. It wasn't a big deal while we were touring the outside vendors (though the isles were much narrower this year).

While a two hour head start sounds like a lot of time we usually are only able to make it through about 2/3rds of the outside vendors before the general public starts flooding in. By this time we already had our wagon full with a hanging tomato plant being held until we headed to the car.

Besides the outside vendors that are setup on the parking lot there are "inside" vendors that are, I guess, supposed to be the nicer vendors. Honestly I can't tell a whole to of difference, between the vendors in the two locations, but they they tend to be more of the glassware vendors and nicer antiques. We always do that section last since the thought is that these vendors are going to be a little more expensive. Well, this year the inside vendors were smushed onto the floor of the Family Arena. There was absolutely no room to move. We made it down the first isle with the wagon and I almost lost my mind. We just decided to park the wagon, but even without it we could barely make it down the rows. It was just a mess. I felt terrible for the inside vendors and shoppers just moved with the flow of the crowd and really weren't even looking at the wares.

We had fun and founds some treasures. The line of cars trying to get into the place as we left stretched all the way back to the interstate. The Gypsy Caravan Facebook page was blowing up with dissatisfied shoppers or people who gave up and went home before they even got in.

Here are some photos of my finds.
I didn't buy these, but there were a lot of them and they were cool looking.
Scored these cool splatterware lunch trays. I have no idea what I am going to do with them, but they were cheap. I normally only buy a couple of finds like this and kick myself later for not getting more. So this time I went ahead and picked up 10.
I have a thing for bottle brush trees, so jumped when I saw these. My favorites are the ones with fruit or other things decorating them. Of course I couldn't pass up a vintage plastic spaceman. I have this craft idea for small vintage ceramic planters/egg cups, so keep picking them up if they are cheap enough. Of course I have yet to do anything with them.
Ok, so I couldn't pass these up. They were only a buck a piece, so I bought all of them. They came with a free extra roll of tape, so that was an added bonus.
I always need more blending tool handles (it's a stamping/scrapbooking thing) and a whole bag of them for five bucks was too good to pass up.
OK, so I didn't buy this. It was just so freaky that I had to take a picture of it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

John C. Campbell Folk School - JoAnn Kelly Catsos - 2014

Well another week at the John C. Campbell Folk School has come and gone. Fortunately the memories and the baskets that I wove while I was there remain. Like last year, this class with JoAnn Kelly Catsos, was another exploration in miniature basket weaving. Now one thing you need to understand there is a difference between weaving small baskets and weaving miniatures. While the overall size of the basket can be the same the proportions of the materials is completely different.

The baskets I was making were true scaled down versions of their larger counter parts. The two main baskets I wanted to weave were both woven on an approximately 3"x4" rectangular mold. I had made larger versions of both basket, a Shaker tatting basket and a Shaker wood chip basket, with JoAnn a few years earlier. Since the mold I was making was about 40% smaller than the original mold I used I simply used pencil, paper and a calculator to determine the size the uprights and weavers needed to be. I did the same for the rims, handles and lashers.

Most of the students in the class wove baskets that JoAnn had designed and figured out all the material sizes and weights, and made the molds, rims and handles in a nice neat kit form. Of course, since I was designing my own basket I also had to make all my own parts as well, which included making jigs to bend the handles and rims over. I ended up making the mold twice just to make sure I was happy with the shape and the handle form twice since the first time I completely screwed up the measurements.

Even though these baskets are really small they have the same number of uprights and the same number of rows, they are all just way smaller than the "regular" size baskets. So, it took just as long to weave these as it did to make their big brothers. This is the mini Shaker wood chip basket.

 This is the mini Shaker tatting basket. Tatting baskets already have small weavers and lots of uprights. The uprights are 1/8" wide and the weavers are 1/32" black ash.

 I wove both baskets in tandem. This is the wood chip after drying, leveling and with the uprights turned down.

While I could make the tatting basket ahead of time, I wasn't sure how big the tiny side handles needed to be though. So, I had to whittle these out of thick white ash growth rings. I had to make a sample one to figure out the shaping. While the originals were flattened across the top, I simply couldn't carve these thin enough to make that shape while them still having any strength.

Of course I couldn't just make two baskets, I had to start another one. This was a 2 1/2" Shaker quadrafoil tub. Fortunately I started this basket one evening when there was only one other person in the studio. I really needed quiet and total concentration to work on this basket start. Once I had a few rows put in I could let it rest for the evening and finish it the next day.

The larger wood chip basket was actually a half-scale version of a larger antique Shaker basket, so while this mini is half-scale of the large, it is actually quarter-scale of the original antique basket.

The mini tatting basket is a half-scale version since the larger one I made was actual size of a traditional Shaker tatting.

Like the weaving, the lashing of these baskets was surprisingly time consuming. Ultimately it took me two days to make each of these baskets, which was how long it took to make the larger versions.

My finished 2 1/2" black ash Shaker quadrafoil tub.

While this 1" Shaker cathead basket was the smallest I made, it was actually the easiest. JoAnn's materials are the best, so everything went together so nicely.

Everyone was all smiles after a week of weaving. I just wish that there could have been another week spent there. I so did not want to have to go back to the real world.

My four miniature black ash baskets. These were some of the most challenging baskets I have made, but definitely some of the most rewarding. Now I can't wait to go back to the John C. Campbell Folk School to do it all over again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Eric Taylor Workshop

Eric Taylor will be back in St. Louis again this May to teach two great classes. Eric Taylor has been making traditional baskets and Shaker boxes since 1983. His love for working with wood and the black ash trees inspired him to experiment further in the art which lead to creating his own contemporary designs that combined the elements of the Shaker and Nantucket baskets. Eric has taught the art of basketry, nationally, for over twenty years.

Saturday and Sunday,  May 10 and 11, 2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cottage Organizer
11" L x 9" W x 5" H

The Cottage Organizer is woven of brown ash with a cherry base, rims and dividers with integrated handle. This beautiful basket, is great for many uses, from sorting letters to dinnerware.



Smith River Creel
9.5" L x 7.5" W x 7" H

You don’t have to fly fish to love the Smith River Creel. This functional, yet decorative, basket is woven of brown ash with cherry runners and latch, and features adjustable leather straps.

Monday and Tuesday,  May 12 and 13, 2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cottage Gardener
15" L x 10" W x 10" H  (4" w/o handle)

New for 2014, the Cottage Gardener is woven of brown ash with cherry handle, rims and skates. The skates are not only decorative, they also act to lift the basket and give it a firm stature.

Class fees include all materials, handouts and use of mold, weaving stand and tools

Contact: Tony Stubblefield
if you would like to receive registration information

Friday, January 31, 2014

Westfall Baskets II

Earlier I wrote about a white oak basket I had in my collection from the Westfall family of  Missouri. Here are some others by the same family.
11.5" h x 9" w x 9" w
Marjorie Westfall Prewitt - 1984
Moberly, MO

11.5" h x 9.5" l  x 14.5" w
Everette Westfall - 1985

Higbee, MO
Unknown Westfall family member - Contemporary
OK, you know you have too many baskets when you can't figure out what you did with one.

You can tell that the above baskets are made by the third to present generation of the family by a simple signature feature. Below is the feature to tell the difference.
Antique baskets = no cross at handle and rim.
Contemporary baskets = cross at handle and rim.