Mary Sue joy

St.Mary's County, Maryland, which lies at the confluence of the Potomac River, the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, has been my home since birth. I grew up a few miles from the St. Clements Island Lighthouse on the Potomac, and spent most of my childhood in and around the river, fishing, crabbing and paddling.

In 2012, my creative passion was inspired by the historic accounts of the baskets designed and woven by sailors during the 1830s off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts: the Nantucket Lightship Basket. Thus began my journey as a weaver, driven by history, home and water.

My Nantucket Lightship Baskets are created by weaving over cane or wooden staves. A meticulously hand-rubbed and oiled finish is applied to the wooden base, inner and outer rims, and handle. The base is attached to a wooden mold or vessel, and cane or wooden staves are sanded and shaped by hand. When wooden staves are used they are steamed and bent to achieve a perfect fit into the routed base. As the staves dry they assume the shape of the mold. As weaving begins, traditional over/under as well as various twill and block patterns are used. At completion, a rim is fashioned and lashed to the basket with cane and brass escutcheon pins, or wooden dowels. Handles are attached to the rim or woven into the body of the basket using 'ears'. Lids (covers) are turned pieces, or may be woven, as the artist chooses. Embellishments are added to enhance the beauty of the creation. A finish of two to three coats of spar urethane complete the basket, affording strength and durability. 

An average of 40 to 80 hours is required to complete each Nantucket basket that is lovingly and carefully crafted to become a treasured heirloom. 

I'm a little Nantucket, strong and stout;

don't burn me or lose me, I'll never wear out."    


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