Learn an ancient craft in Eagle | VailDaily.com

Learn an ancient craft in Eagle

Kathy Heicher
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Basketweaving is probably one of the oldest crafts known to man.

Think about it. Those hunters and gatherers needed some sort of vessel for carrying their seeds and vegetables back to their campfires. And, archaeological records indicate that baskets were prevalent thousands of years ago in the Egyptian age.

Local residents will have a rare opportunity to learn basketmaking from an expert on Monday, March 9. The Eagle Valley Library District and the local gardening club, Gardeners on the Go, will host a basketmaking workshop taught by Karen Alldredge of Carbondale.

Alldredge took up weaving 20 years ago while teaching at the Shawnee Mission School District in Johnson Count, Kan. A friend who was an experienced weaver offered to share her skills with local teachers.

Alldredge, now a resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, was smitten enough with the art to pursue several classes taught by well-known basketweavers from throughout the country. She’s also somewhat self-taught, and attends conventions and seminars to learn new techniques and patterns.

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“It’s hard on the hands, but once you get hooked on it, it is hard to leave it alone,” promises Alldredge. In fact, many people find the handwork to be therapeutic, she notes. Her specialty is traditional, functional basket that incorporate various weaving techniques and materials that define the pattern and design of the baskets.

Alldredge is a member of the Missouri Basket Weavers Guild, and of the Woven Circle in Kansas City, Mo. She has taught basketweaving workshops at Colorado Mountain College, and for the Redstone Art Council, Aspen Community School, and several individual groups in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Some of her work is currently on display at the Eagle Library. Her baskets are also shown at Toklat Gallery in Basalt, and at Palmer’s Gallery in Cedaredge.

At her March 9 workshop, Alldredge will discuss the history of basketmaking, demonstrate some weaves, and discuss the material used. She will also lead participants through a basket-making exercise, so they will be able to take a completed, small basket home with them.

Alldredge said she uses reed that comes from vines that grow on trees in the rain forest of Indonesia for her baskets. During the raining season, the reed can grow as much as two feet in a single day. The harvesting of the vine does not injure the trees.

The outer part of the vine is the cane that is used for caging chairs. The inner ore is the reed used for basket weaving.

For further information about the workshop, contact the Library at 970-328-8800.

What: Basketmaking workshop

When: March 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Eagle Library

Cost: $10 for the lesson and supplies.

Details: Sign-up deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 10. Sign up at the Eagle Library. Bring a brown-bag lunch, if desired.

More information: Call 970-328-8800.

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