If you celebrate Easter, you are probably familiar with the traditionally shaped Easter Basket. Usually, these "wicker" or "splint" baskets are made from williow, cane, or reed. In the U.S., Nantucket Baskets and Williamsburg baskets are common. You may be surprised to learn that basket making is one of the oldest crafts known to man. Because of the organic materials baskets are made from it is difficult to know just how old the craft acutally is. However, the oldest-known baskets have been carbon dated from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. This is longer than any known examples of pottery. Today, the craft of basketmaking has evolved to suit the tastes of our times. Now, more than ever, baskets are more than utilitarian vessels. Consider the "Jacaranda Basket" seen above. This basket was made by Michael and Christine Adcock of Adcock Studios. Mr. Adcock studied art and ceramics at the University of California Santa Cruz, taking a traditional route in art by becoming a studio potter. On the other hand, Mrs. Adcock studied art at the University of California and then contacted traditional weavers who taught her the craft. Her route was less traditional as she arranged to live and apprentice on the Papago Reservation. Together, these two artists collaborate to create vessels made of clay and natural fibers. Like many other basketmakers throughout the world, their innovations have helped elevate the craft of basketmaking to an art form.
This Easter, as you watch the children gather their eggs in wicker (or plastic) baskets consider the ancient form. Remember that the shape of the basket is an ancient one that ties us to distant lands and earlier peoples. It reminds us that while many things may change many more remain the same. The art and craft of basket making continues.