My friend Clara Keezer passed away August 2nd, 2016 at the age of 86. Clara Keezer was humble, kind, generous and very hardworking. I miss her as does her family and community.
The strawberry basket the most recognized and beloved basket form by which Clara Keezer, (d 2016) Passamaquoddy basketmaker was best known. When Clara won the NEA award in 2002, a similar basket was chosen to be the basket representing her work, the basket appearing on posters, brochures and on her card - one of which will come with this basket.. This strawberry basket, in perfect condition, may be one of the last of her great strawberries to be offered for sale.
Like all her strawberries, it is covered with perfect curlicue curls and has her signature crescent shaped handle/stem and green leafed "hull" on the lid. This was made in 2009, it is signed and dated on the outside of the inner rim of the lid, it is also signed on the basket bottom. It is 4" high, with the crescent shaped handle/stem adding another 1", 5" total height overall. It is 3" widest diameter, has a 1.75" diameter opening at the top and a 1" diameter bottom. The curlicues are much smaller at the bottom to fit the smaller diameter/space.
Clara Keezer, Passamaquoddy basketmaker was a winner of a NEA 2002 Heritage Fellowship award for her basketry work. According to the NEA website, this award is "the country's highest honor in the folk and traditional art" -... and includes all folk arts and crafts including but not limited to - music, dance, performance art and traditional crafts and arts.
This basket is made of brown ash splints, the traditional material of Maine and Eastern Canadian basketmakers and also incorporates tidal sweetgrass to wrap the rim of the basket and the lid. The sweetgrass grows only in tidal marshes; these are plentiful near Clara Keezer's home in Pleasant Point Reserve - Sipayak. Her friend and neighbor, Diane Apt, picked the sweetgrass - Clara herself dried and combed it.
Read more about Clara Keezer, her work and influence on Maine Indian basketry in the news section of this site - "Honoring Clara Keezer"... also a shorter article about her in the bio section.