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"Baby Urchin" basket with antler handle, turquoise accents


Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot basketmaker calls this little beauty a "baby urchin" basket. Sea urchins can be found nearly everywhere on the coast of Maine and it is a form of basket made by Sarah's ancestors for over 125 years. This has very fine weaver splints used on the lid with natural colored tiny porcupine curls (sometimes called points) and turquoise dyed tight small curlicue curls on the basket sides. Sarah placed a row each of even tinier points and curls on the very outer edge of the lid. This very fine, precise curl work is very difficult and time consuming. Sarah is the only Maine Indian basketmaker currently doing such perfect miniature work. I know of 2 other basketmakers who have done great miniature work, both are now focusing on larger pieces.

This piece is 3" greatest diameter and 1.75" to the top of the lid with the antler handle adding another .75" to make a total height of 2.5". Handle is made from the very tip of a deer antler. Made of brown ash, the traditional basketry material of the Wabanaki basket makers, this has tidal sweetgrass wrapping the rim of the basket and the rim of the inset lid. There are a few rows of fine sweetgrass used as weavers on the lid and also on the bottom of the basket. This basket is signed and dated by Sarah on the interior of the lid.

Urchin baskets are sometimes more "compressed", squatter and early urchin baskets have no curls. I find the addition of curls, especially porcupine point curls make the urchin basket more like a real spikey urchin shell. - In the final photo below you can see a picture from the early 1900's showing some of the larger, squatter urchin baskets. The two Penobscot women basketmaker's faces are not shown and their identities not revealed at the request of the person who gave me a copy of her photo. She is a descendant of one of the woman.

baby urchin basket
baby urchin basket -top of  lid
baby urchin basket - open
baby urchin basket - signature
Baskets C/1900 w/Urchin baskets
Weight: 12 oz