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Workshop teaches traditional craft

10:46 PM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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A basket weaving class lets students create something with lasting beauty in half a day.

"So we start from the middle," Basket weaving instructor Katie Avram explained to her class.

She started making baskets when she was a child. Katie Avram had good teachers.

"So I learned the splint woven basket which is what the Appalachian tradition is more like from my Dad," she said.

Now that she's retired she teaches her craft at Artifactia in Bearden.

California native Nora Robinson is taking the class to connect with East Tennessee. She moved here to be closer to family.

"I went to the Appalachian Museum in Norris and I saw there were all sorts of different baskets made for different purposes," she said.

Katie and Joe Avram team teach the half-day class. They start with pre-cut reed comes from the rattan plant then they show the students the process then walk them through the steps.

Most of the students are beginners like Nora.

"It's fun. It's kind of interesting. It's more mathematical than I thought," Nora said.

Transforming a bunch of reeds into a beautiful basket takes patience.

"The first two rows are really painful for them because that's where your control comes in and your first two rows look horrible," Katie explained. "And with the third row they're like yeah oh yeah I like this. This is good."

Most of her baskets turn out perfect and for the few that don't finds a way to salvage them.

"What I'll do is I'll grunge it up or something and say look at this really grungy basket and sometimes people like them better. A lot of my favorite baskets are baskets I made by mistake," she said.

Nora made no mistake spending a morning and afternoon in the class at Artifactia.

"I think I'll try it again. I think there are all different kinds of baskets. And it seems like it's disciplined but it's also seems like it's very creative so I think those two things really seem very appealing to me," Nora said.

Patience pays off.

Katie said, "When you're done with the class. Wow! You've got a basket to brag about." As Nora finished her first basket she already knew exactly what she would do with it.

"I'm actually going to give it away," she said.

She's going to give it to her sister.

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