The creation of a pine needle basket is a painstakingly slow process. I gather each longleaf pine needle directly from the tree, then dry it, dye it, paint it, and soak it in water before beginning the coiling process. Using an oversized sewing needle, I stitch my coils together using a variety of materials such as waxed linen thread, copper wire, brass wire, and telephone wire. When a basket is completed, it is heat-treated with beeswax and signed with my initials “CB”.
My baskets are wholly organic forms that have no utilitarian function. I become totally immersed in the process as I work and rarely think about the finished object. As I work on a basket, a calming sense of inner peace seems to surround me. And yet, at the same time I feel a need to complete the object at hand so that I can begin the process all over again. Ideas are endless….. time is precious.
A native of Dalton, GA, Clay resides in Columbia, SC, where he splits his time between kayaking, coiling baskets, weaving scarves and arts administration.