June 2012 – Baskets by Charles Ross

Posted on Jun 7, 2011

June 2012 – Baskets by Charles Ross

June 7 to July 29, 2011 in the Etowah Arts Commission. June 16 @ 6pm is the Public Reception. Mr. Ross will also treat us to a demonstration of basket-weaving!

Etowah native Charles Ross will share with us his exquisite hand-made baskets in the months of June and July. He began weaving in 1981 and hasn’t stopped since! His house is a tribute to his love and skill, with baskets of every size and purpose decorating and organizing the home he shares with his wife, Edna. Tiny, palm-sized baskets grace shelves, while their large, sturdy cousins hold fruit, chips, and magazines. But basket-weaving is useful in other ways too: Charles refurbished the seat and back rocking chair he is pictured in with a comfy “double-weave” (pictured below). A large workshop out back, near their garden, holds his tools, materials, and works-in-progress.

It seems the Art Commission may be responsible for this passion. In 1981 a class in basket-weaving was offered in Etowah (possibly by EAC). Charles wanted to take the class, but his work schedule wouldn’t permit it. Instead, Edna took the course and taught him what she learned at home. (She continued to weave for a short while. They still use her fruit basket, her only remaining basket after sales and gifting)

This is how Charles learned the basic weave, one over and one under. After he mastered this technique, he taught himself from manuals to learn the more intricate patterns which he now practices exclusively. As time went on he challenged himself to create bassinets for his grandchildren (without a pattern and by his own design). He also designed his own original gourd baskets – which he is holding in the picture above. Having seen gourds decorated at the top with weaving on a trip, he thought “Why not make a full basket?” And the next year he grew gourds to test his idea. He has not seen or heard of anyone else doing this since!

Basket care tip: To keep a basket from becoming brittle and breaking, soak it once every 4 or so years. Yes! Soak it! Charles says to drench it in the sink then just let it sit until it drys out. This will save your baskets for generations to come.