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Object Lesson: The Enduring Adirondack Day Pack Basket

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Nov 04, 2015 01:03 AM
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by Margot Guralnick last modified Nov 03, 2015

The tradition of shouldering a basket dates back to early Native American times, and these days packs are woven in a number of wilderness pockets in the US and beyond. We decided to do some investigating and discovered a number of Adirondack basket weavers who create the packs the traditional meticulous way, out of local black ash, hand pounded, cut, and shaved into splints. They come in a range of sizes and shapes, all reinforced on the base with ash runners, and were traditionally made by wilderness guides and hikers themselves for toting everything from fishing rods and picnic gear to just-picked blueberries—DIY pack-weaving classes are regularly offered at workshops in the Adirondacks.  Five to Buy from Local Craftspeople Above: Jonathan Kline of  Black Ash Baskets  in Trumansburg, New York, whose designs we spotlighted in  Baskets as High Art , has a cult following and makes pack baskets to order in a range of sizes, with or without straps. Of his pack designs, he says: "Rims, handle, and skids are made of shagbark hickory that is split, carved, and bent to fit each individual basket. The basket itself is woven of heavy black ash splint. Like all my baskets, these strips are the annual growth layers that I pound and separate from the tree. I shave each strip to a smooth finish that is then beveled on the edges to make a tight weave." Above: Adirondacks master craftsman Jamin Uticone apprenticed for six years under Jonathan Kline, and makes a range of finely crafted baskets detailed with bridle leather, including the Medium and Urban Pack shown above. Fun fact: Uticone's  Urban Pack Basket  is in the Smithsonian. See his work at  Swamp Road Baskets ; prices on request. Above: The End of Summer Knapsack Basket , $75 on Etsy, is handwoven to order by Minnesota basket maker Claire Swanson. Above L: Maine basket maker Fran Doonan is a "self-taught black ash basket maker," as she says. She teaches the art and produces limited-edition, artfully formed baskets. Above R: Stephen Zeh uses Maine brown ash, English bridle leather, shearling shoulder pads, and copper and brass fittings in his luxe pack baskets.  Above: The Birch Store in Keene Valley, New York, offers handmade backpacks in three sizes from Bud Ziolkowski and Sandy Muller of Clear Creek Weavers in Saranac Lake, New York. The couple also teaches workshops on basket making; visit the Adirondack Mountain Club for information.    Above: Vintage Adirondack pack baskets are available from a number of sources, including rustic antiques specialist  Ralph Kylloe  of the Adirondacks, and on eBay and Etsy—search Adirondack pack baskets, pack baskets, trapper baskets, and basket backpacks. Read our Object Lesson on the companion to the pack baskets, the Adirondack Chair . Go to Baskets & Bins for more of our favorite storage solutions.  More Stories from Remodelista True Nature Botanicals: Nontoxic, Science-First Skin Care






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