Nancy Olson, current president of the Tacoma Weavers Guild and expert on basketry of the northwest coastal traditions, led a workshop in cedar bark basketry in the Haida tradition. Materials for the class included an astounding array of yellow and red cedar bark, plus maidenhair fern, dyed bark, and grasses, most collected and prepared by Nancy and her mentors. Attendees were from the Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle weaving guilds, and ranged from master basket makers to raw beginners. Nancy displayed a collection of her phenomenal work as inspiration.
As with most beginners, the results would not be construed as authentic examples of the tradition–for instance, left-handed transposition of the twining from S to Z twist. But, we learned how to split bark into thinner spokes and weavers (what basket makers call warp and weft). and spent the weekend immersed in the heady aroma of cedar, as our soaking tubs took on the color of strong tea and our fingers became coated with sap released from splitting the bark.