Cedar Bark Basket Workshop

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.


On the right, paper made from scrap cedar bark left over from basket-making


Samples for inspiration


The raw materials: red and yellow cedar bark, harvested from many individual trees deep in the Alaskan coastal forests, separated from the outer bark, and split.

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About Larye

New weaver and amateur loom mechanic. 50-year career in information technology, now self-employed and semi-retired: specialize in Unix systems administration, web site development, and bioinformatics applications programming. Other interests include bicycle touring, aircraft construction, and quilting. Married to weaver/spinner/quilter/cyclist Judy.

One thought on “Cedar Bark Basket Workshop

  1. Thanks so very much, Larye, for the terrific pictures and descriptions of the workshop in cedar bark weaving. I, as the teacher, had such fun. It was wonderful to be with motivated and already learned and talented students. We are hoping to be able to do some gathering this spring to lead those that wish to more basket making readyness. Nancy Olson

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