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New Basketry Product Review
Ruth Andre - Creator Of Little Scout and Little Feather Basketweaving Kits  

Little Scout Basket kit by Ruth Andre - littlescoutcomplete.jpg (11124 bytes)

I recently asked Ruth to tell me more about her background and just how she developed her series of pre-cut basketry kits for beginners and children. This is what she had to say.

ruthandre.jpg (2524 bytes)Q:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised on a small ranch in Southern California. I grew up very much in touch with nature and its beauty. I studied art and design at California State Long Beach as well as printmaking at Otis/Parsons Art Institute in Los Angeles. My interest in art lead me to a career representing artists and photographers located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. In 1986 I moved to the San Diego, CA. I met and married my husband, Tom.

Our agriculture business, growing and selling fresh cut flowers gave me the opportunity to live in Baja California, Mexico. While there I learned from the Oaxian Indians the art of making usefulness and beauty from materials with little or no value. Ready for a new adventure in 1992 we moved to a small farm in the Mid-West 2 hours south of St. Louis, MO.

How did you get involved in gourd baskets?

The move from California to Missouri changed my life. I had been used to easy access to art workshops and the friendship of other artists. I found myself very isolated from the world of art. By accident I took up the craft of basket making when one year we grew 6 acres of gourds. The gourds offered me the inspiration to combine them with the ancient art, coiled pine needle basketry. I call my baskets "Gourd-Weavings". The shapes, colors and textures are integrated and instinctive as each weaving becomes a work of art.

Do you exhibit your own Gourd-Weavings?

My work is displayed online in the Fiberartsonline site. A full portfolio and a selection of my award winning coiled gourd and pine needle basketry is included there along with a resume which includes the places where my work is exhibited.

What made you decide to make children's basket weaving kits?

During an exhibit for the gourd-weavings a young boy came up to me saying he wanted to try making a gourd-weaving basket and could I show him how? He was a very young fellow so I knew I would need to come up with a very simple kit for him to try. I went to work on developing my first children's kit the "Little Feather" gourd-weaving kit. The "Little Feather" kit is made by coiling rolled paper around a gourd base instead of pine needles. It is child friendly and easy to handle.

How did that evolve into the wire core paper kits like the Little Scout?

With my first wholesale order for the rolled paper I was sent a sample book of paper products and when I opened the book I thought these luscious paper colors would make wonderful woven baskets. I went to work on designing a series of baskets all intended for the very beginner basket maker. Not being totally satisfied with the paper colors available I ordered my own color combinations to make this first series, the "Pottery" basket series, with colors that are found in the southwest.

What has inspired you to create these kits as a way to teach children?

As a child I was very fortunate to have adults teach me many crafts that have served me well my entire life. After learning the art of coiling I wanted to share different basket making techniques with children. I wanted children to benefit, understand and appreciate the ancient craft of basketry. I have been diagnosed with a severe hearing impairment and voices, especially little voices of children, are very difficult for me to understand. Teaching to a group of children was not an option. That encouraged me to write basket patterns and photograph step-by-step instructions in hopes of making basket making easy and fun.

How do you plan to make these kits available to the little people who will become tomorrow's generation of basketmakers?

I now have a retail web site just for the kits. You can order right from this secure online store. It is a fun site with a gallery to show off baskets made by children that order the kits. It also includes photos of some of the basket kits in process. 

I will target craft catalogs, retail basketry shops, museum gift shops and children's gift shops with the kits as well.

How can people contact you?

Ruth Andre
Wild Pony Baskets
PO Box 100
Blodgett, MO 63824

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More Basketry For Beginners
More Basketry Kits

Photos used with the permission of Ruth Andre.

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