Artisan Willows

Beth Allman

I grew up with a father who could fix anything; he could make something out of nothing. Being the oldest of three girls, I was the one called on to help in the shop. While I’m told my sisters would escape to their rooms, I would help with whatever project he was dreaming up. His mother, my grandmother, also had the talent for making things out of what she could imagine. Looking at an intricately crocheted doily together, she once told me if she could see it, she could work it out in her head and replicate it. I also feel if I can see it, I can make it; if I can imagine it, I can do it.
I was asked to teach at an Art Camp the summer of 1982 and that’s when it happened. Another teacher was there to teach basketry. Between us we had no experience or knowledge about how to weave baskets, but she had a book and some reed. We sat down and figured out how to weave a basic basket before the campers arrived. I can honestly say, I have no recollection of what I was teaching those few weeks; I was hooked on weaving baskets.
Largely self taught, I love the challenge of looking at a chaotic pile of reed or a broken chair and seeing the possibilities. I am drawn to making utilitarian items that are structurally sound, beautiful, and useful. And most of all, I love sharing the craft. If I can figure it out, I can help someone else do it, too.