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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?

A:
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.

Q:
How did you get involved in gourd baskets?

A:
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.

Q:
Do you exhibit your own Gourd-Weavings?

A:
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.

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

A:
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.

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

A:
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.

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

A:
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.

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

A:
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. http://wildponybaskets.com 

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

Q:
How can people contact you?

A:
Ruth Andre
Wild Pony Baskets
PO Box 100
Blodgett, MO 63824
573-472-1960
andrefarms@msn.com

Back To The Start Of The Product Review
More Basketry For Beginners
More Basketry Kits

Photos used with the permission of Ruth Andre.

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