Palmetto Culture – Sweetgrass Basket-Weaving

credit to fourcorners.com for pictures

credit to fourcorners.com for pictures


Crafts such as jewelry, pottery, fans, and quilts reflected the African Styles. Sweetgrass Basket-weaving was one of the most dominant crafts in the region. It has been discovered that there is a strong link in weave pattern, design, and final product between the flat and fanner baskets of the Carolinas and those of Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and Ghana. The Sea Islanders have similar coiling techniques, stitching techniques, and patterns.

So just a bit on how to actually weave the baskets: Most baskets follow a similar coil technique. The knot is used as the base. The free ends are bundled, folded, and wound around the knot to form a coil. The opening is pierced in the center knot and a strip of palm leaf is pulled through the opening, wrapped around the grass coil, and pulled back through for a second opening, which is made to anchor or station the coil. As the process is repeated, the coil begins to circle out from the center knot to create a basket base that is circular or oval. From the base, the basket is constructed by the changing angle at which one circular row is fasted to another.

Sweetgrass Baskets were made for practical purposes, such as winnowing rice, carrying clothing, cradling infants, and fanning and sorting foods. The work baskets were made of sturdy leaves like bulrushes and palmettos. However, in modern times, customers are more interested in the “show baskets.” These baskets are lighter, more colorful, and less study. So in other words, don’t try to winnow your rice in these particular show pieces ūüôā .

The children, both boys and girls were taught basket-making along with other traditional skills. Children learn to weave by the age of six (Oh how I wish I had learned right along with them). By their teens they would have mastered their own style.

Marshland Coming Soon.

This information is better detailed in the book, When Roots Die by Patricia Jones-Jackson and Charles Joyner. http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Jones-Jackson/e/B000APQS88

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Palmetto Art

When I describe my sister, Tam, I would say that no one else has one of these.¬† People may think that’s extreme or they may think, “Oh everyone says that about someone in their life,” but once people meet my sister, they understand what I am talking about. You don’t just meet Tam, she’s someone¬†you “experience”.¬† She’s bubbly. She’s energetic. She’s creative. But you can’t just use words to describe Tam (although I will attempt to in this blog post).¬† Not even the word, “charismatic,” does her personality justice.¬†Whatever it is about¬†her, it’s infectious.¬†My best example: When I was living in New Orleans, Tam was attending Florida State University and came to visit me one¬†Mardi Gras weekend.¬† We, along with a couple of my friends, were standing on the corner of, I believe it was St. Charles and Canal St., waiting on the street car. My sister regaled us with the details of¬†her trip to New York City with the University gospel choir.¬† I noticed the further she got along in her story, the larger this crowd grew of people I have never seen before in my life.¬† By the time she got to the end of story, she had this crowd of random people cracking up. I don’t know if it were just the specifics of this experience that were humorous (although they were funny), or the comedic factor that was pumped up several notches in the telling. She had the hand gestures and the sound effects.¬†It was the varying facial expressions.¬†It’s one of¬†those “you had to be there,” but again to know¬†her is to understand what I’m talking about.¬†¬†And it’s not just her knack for storytelling.¬† There’s the fact that she makes up names for certain events and items that just fit and catch on (Yes, that humongous winter coat that you are wearing,¬†swallowing you whole,¬†does look like it should be called a “Boonitup” coat). Then there’s the “each sponge has a purpose depending on what you are cleaning,” which I can’t just limit to calling it anal.¬†¬†It’s just too funny. Then Tam has all of her friends, of course… And my friends too. When I spent time with my friends, Tam was right there. Most siblings mind, I didn’t. She was just herself and blended right on in.

And then there is the art. The purpose of this blog post.¬† My parents knew what they were doing when they named artist, Uncle Alex as her godfather (God rest his soul). They were peas in a pod when it came to original personalities. And artistic talent.¬† My sister has a corporate career like most people and like everything else, she brings her own flair to the position.¬† She even uses her experiences to teach others (Corporate Tips), but it’s a big cover up for the hidden talent.¬†The art.¬†I asked my sister to design my book cover. I knew that my sister drew things here and there and did craftwork here and there. I’m thinking she’s going to send me some sketches or some crayon work on construction paper. No, this girl sends artwork masterpieces on tile. Two of them. Just when I think I know her, I’m floored. They are such a brilliant depiction of Sea Island art using yellows, blues, and greens. She knew what I wanted even though I didn’t know what I wanted and she gave me what I wanted. Add that to the list of character traits that I cannot describe using merely words.¬†¬†¬†So, again¬†I am serious when I say, that no one else has one of these.¬† A unique individual.

Happy Birthday, Sis. I look forward to many more years of you.

By Tarisse Grant-Shelton

By Tarisse Grant-Shelton

 

By Tarisse Grant-Shelton

By Tarisse Grant-Shelton