Basket Weaving Workshop with Terrol Dew Johnson
First, I DID NOT HAVE ANY IDEA about Basket Weaving and it definitely surprised me. How to weave a basket? I can tell that a workshop from a traditional Tohono O'odham basket weaver is something special and an experience that goes beyond everything I ever learned before.
The traditional techniques we've learned were challenging, fun and I learned so much about materials gathered from nature. How to harvest, how to prepare and how to work with natural materials such as beargrass, yacca, and the devil's claw. It took me just hours to learn how to work with grass. The grass is unpredictable, every halm can be unique and this material needs special treatment so you can take control of it and form a basket.
It was mind-blowing for me to learn so much about local plants, local traditions, and the beautiful craftsmanship of basket weaving. The beginning of weaving a basket it the trickiest part of all. But after that, you face the real challenge: Patience. To set row after row and build up an object is time-consuming, but kind of meditating too. I did enjoy it and got into a flow during my work!
It takes hours and hours of practice and it surprised me, how much goes into Basket Weaving. Your hands can get so easily tired of forming the material, punching holes, using the yacca as natural needle and rope to form the basket.
I learned to face unpredictable materials, harvested from local areas and how to create with the simplest tools something incredible. It never was in my mind how much knowledge and craftsmanship is behind a simple basket. For that, I'm very thankful that I had Terrol Dew Johnson as a teacher. He is an amazing artist and he also lectured a short presentation about the culture behind basket weaving. It was eye opening and interesting. Definitely, check out his amazing traditional and contemporary artwork.
Terrol Dew Johnson will have another free workshop at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson on March 10th at 10 a.m. It is so worth it to go and learn a new craft!