BEREA, Ky. (September 10, 2004) -- On Friday, September 17, basketmaker Robin Reed of Irvine, will demonstrate bark baskets from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
The making of bark baskets goes back for over 300 years and Robin Reed gives voice to this old tradition. Bark is the outermost covering of a tree and is a versatile natural material that for thousands of years has been used to make huts and houses, baskets and buckets, canoes and boats. Robin Reed is one of Kentucky’s numerous artisans who utilize bark from trees to create works of utility and beauty.
Robin Reed makes bark baskets from the willow and poplar trees that grow along the banks of the Kentucky River and its tributaries in Estill and Lee Counties near his rural home. Poplar, and willow tree barks are used because the amount of sap in these trees is great and the presence of sap or moisture is necessary in order for the bark to be separated from the inner wood.
The process involves cutting a tree with a chain saw, removing the limbs and a cutting through the bark down the length of the tree. A hatchet is used to pry and pull the bark off the tree in one long roll. This is done when the sap is up in the tree, which allows the bark to be separated from the inner wood. The bark is supple and easily shaped if used while moist. A draw knife separates the inner and outer bark layers. The inner bark is then soaked in water, cut into strips and prepared for weaving. The larger sections of bark are cut into different widths and lengths using a template or pattern, soaked in water to soften, then folded into a basket. The basket forms are then stitched together using strips of inner bark. Each basket is signed and dated, ready for garden and decorating use. Robin Reed’s bark baskets are regularly found at the Kentucky Artisan Center.
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is located just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, restaurant and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 450 artisans from all across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Commerce Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.