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Black Ash woodsplint has been used as a basketry splint material for a very long time, a fact illustrated by this photographic image of this group of Mi'kmaq women with woodsplint baskets, taken circa 1890. No doubt this material was used by Northeast Native American basketmakers long before that because of its superior strength, flexibility, lustrous surface texture and native growth habit.

Once European settlers inhabited the Northeast, they learned to use this native material and established black ash splint basketry traditions of their own. Yankee basketmakers and Shakers used this material for many of their baskets.

Black Ash continues to be a basketry material of choice today for many of the same reasons it has been used historically. It is a remarkably supple and strong splint material even when it is subdivided into very thin splints. The fact that a growth ring can be split into single satin, or even delicate double satin splint makes this material adaptable to a wide variety of basket types from sturdy workbaskets all the way to the tiniest miniature baskets.

The Mi'kmaq Indians' tradition of making Black Ash baskets continues today in Lennox Island, Canada. Mic Mac First Nation Crafts offers a selection of hand crafted Ash Splint Baskets. The Black Ash is often combined with sweetgrass and frequently incorporates the curled embellishment of the periwinkle or porcupine design.

Traditional shapes in basketry are still being woven by a number of presently active basketmakers. This doll cradle, group of twill and D-swing-handled,small shopper by Irene Ames are good examples.

If you are seeking to add splint baskets to your basket collection you can often find them in antiques shops and increasingly in online auction and fixed price ecommerce sites.

There is no way in this brief article to cover the subject of Black Ash baskets and the artists who weave them. This is a subject that you can be sure we will revisit often. If you know of material regarding black ash basketry not mentioned here, post your comment to the board or contact me.

Additional Links:

 

Brown Ash Baskets From American Native Downeast
Vintage, antique and new Maine native brown ash woodsplint baskets created by Pam Cunningham, Joyce Tomah, Ganessa, Jeremy Frey, Gal Frey, Eric "Otter" Bacon and other accomplished Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot basketmakers. Find sewing, corn, creel, carrot, acorn, strawberry and mini baskets made with ash splint and sweetgrass that include porcupine twist curls. Also holiday items such as Christmas tree ornaments and Valentines Day sweetheart baskets along with other traditional Maine basketwork.

Books About New England Black Ash Woodsplint Basketry

The Legend of The Black Ash Basket

Nipmunk Splint Basketry

Maliseet Basketry

Mi'kmaq Ash Splint Baskets

Tools for Ash Splint Basketry

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