A pine tree basket from the Pine Tree State (Maine)! So excited to have some new & great baskets by Susan "Pi'htalo"/longtail Thompson. This pine cone basket has sharp "point" or "porcupine" curls, Sue's unique handle of tightly braided & tightly wrapped/twisted tidal sweetgrass and some green pine "needles" on the top of the lid. Pine cone baskets are a family tradition, both Sue's sisters have made them. Each putting in their pine cone baskets their own personal interpretation of this form.
Sue has been making baskets on and off for several years with her talented sisters, Pam Thompson Cunningham and Kimberly Thompson Bryant. Recently Sue has retired from her "day job" and is devoting more time to basketmaking. Pam and Kim are well known, highly regarded Penobscot basketmakers who along with Kim's daughter Ganessa make up one of Maine's most respected families of Penobscot basketmakers. The Thompson sisters' great-grandmother was also a basketmaker (see her photo w/baskets - last photo in slideshow)
This pine cone has several rows of point curls (sometimes called porcupine curls, sometimes called "twists") and on the lid Sue's own handle style (detailed above) and the green dyed thin "pine needles" on the lid. This pine cone is 2.25" to the lid's rim, the handle is another .75", making this 3" high overall. The widest diameter is 2", the opening is 1.25", bottom diameter is .75".
Sue told me that she is using a new type of dye, not the more commonly used aniline dye. She is using professional grade paint which is permanent, non-toxic and UV resistant (aniline dyes fade in light!) ... Sue says she loves painting and drawing - so has enjoyed experimenting with paints for baskets.
Made of brown ash, the traditional material of Maine and Eastern Canadian Wabanaki basketmakers, this has plain tidal sweetgrass wrapping the rim of the basket and the lid. As mentioned the handle is tightly braided tidal sweetgrass and plain tidal sweetgrass is used as weavers on the top of lid and to bind green dyed ash splint pine needles to the lid. Basket lid on the inner rim is signed "Sue Thompson, Penobscot Nation, Maine" And her maker's mark, looking vaguely like "88" is also on the basket lid rim. On the inner rim of the basket itself, Sue has signed "Sue Thompson, Penobscot Nation" with her maker's mark.
It has been several years since I have been able to offer similar baskets by Pam or Kim - they have not made many baskets in recent years. That makes this little pine cone a welcome addition to my "shop" - It is a familiar form by an artist relatively new to serious basketmaking. Sue has many other baskets. I am fortunate to add a strawberry basket, a raspberry, a blueberry and more by Sue. She has the family's basketry talent, some fresh twists on the familiar forms and hopefully there will be many more of her baskets here...
Last photo is a pic of Sue's great-grandmother, ssipsis, selling her baskets about 1920. To make some of her basket forms, Sue's sister Pam uses some of her great-grandmother, ssipsis's basket making tools - gauges, crooked knives and wooden molds. Hope to be adding a bio of Sue Thompson, Penobscot basketmaker soon - when I do some of the info about her here will be moved to her bio page.