Museum offers double shot to witness skills of master basketmakers

It was a listing in a newspaper that started Margaret Marshall on a hobby she now teaches. A calendar item about a meeting of the Great Basin Basketmakers she thought sounded interesting, so she went.

That was in 1992, and she has been making pine-needle baskets as a way to focus her creativity ever since.

"I enjoy doing it. It's calming and inner reflection while you are doing it," Marshall said. "It sparks the creative process about what this leaf or needle will become."

Marshall will be giving one of two presentations on basketmaking at the Nevada State Museum in July. The presentations are in conjunction with the "Interwoven: Visions of the Great Basin Basketmakers" exhibit on display through Aug. 7.

Marshall will give a demonstration on how to build and repair pine-needle baskets 1-3 p.m. July 13.

Modern-day use of pine needles in basketry may have begun during the Civil War when a Georgian named MacAfee used pine needles and cotton thread to make her father a hat. Today's basket makers use natural and dyed pine needles to create entire baskets in different shapes and sizes.

Aside from being the "Interwoven" exhibit's chairwoman, Marshall also has several baskets in the exhibit, including a double-walled pine needle basket, something she hasn't seen before.

"I knew it would be a challenge, but I wanted to do it. I've never seen anybody else do a double-walled pine needle basket," Marshall said.

While Marshall said she has built all different types of baskets, her preference is pine-needle baskets because of their convenience.

"The pine-needle baskets are just easier," she said. "I can take them in the car or do them in the evenings."

Two days after Marshall's demonstration, those interested will be given the chance to try their hand at basketmaking during the mini burden basket workshop 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 15.

Master teacher Karen Roselli, also a member of the Great Basin Basketmakers, will teach participants to make a mini burden basket from reed and natural materials such as raffia, sweet grass, sage bark and iris leaves. Students will embellish their completed baskets with small brass cones hung from buckskin strips.

The workshop is open to 15 people and is suitable for all ability levels. A $30 fee covers the cost of registration and materials.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.

If you go

What: Pine-needle basket making demonstration and mini burden basket making workshop

When: 1-3 p.m. July 13 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 15 respectively

Where: Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson St.

Price: The demonstration is free, however normal museum admission applies. The workshop requires a $30 fee to cover registration and materials. Participants are asked to bring pointed, small scissors, a small awl or small packing tool, smooth-jaw pliers or lacing pliers, a small towel, a small dishpan and a spray bottle.

Call: Eileen Brilliant, with the Great Basin Basketmakers, at (530) 544-5145 to register.


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