Jennifer Heller Zurick

June 2011

Willow Bark Basketry

Course Description
This class will introduce weavers to black willow bark, a very strong, flexible, and beautiful fiber uncommonly used for basketry. Students will process a roll of bark into weaving elements and construct a simple square or round bottom base. They will continue to follow a plain or twill plaited pattern, or be free to design their own basket applying a variety of weaving techniques. A pot, an urn, a sculptureā€¦. the design possibilities are endless and willow bark always promises to give interesting (if not always anticipated) results! A twined border and woven rim technique will be taught, as well as cordage spinning for the handle. One small woven vessel will be completed and another begun if time permits. Bark harvesting will be discussed. All skill levels welcome.

Supply List
*Scissors
*Very sharp knife
*Awl
*Three or four small clamps
*Small soaking bucket
*Spray bottle
*Apron
Old hand towel
*Items marked with an asterisk are available in the Shakerag store. Participants will be supplied with willow bark.

Artist's Biography
Jennifer Heller Zurick is a self-taught artist who has been professionally producing willow bark baskets since 1980. She harvests and processes the inner bark from trees growing along the banks of the Kentucky River, transforming it into one of a kind, intricately woven vessels from her rural home studio in the foothills near Berea, Kentucky. Her work has been featured in many regional and national exhibitions and she has taught numerous workshops throughout her career. Jennifer has been awarded several Kentucky Arts Council grants including two Visual Artist Fellowships, and she was chosen for the 1999 Kentucky Arts Council Cultural Exchange Residency in Ecuador. Her work has been regionally recognized for years and is currently winning awards at prestigious national exhibitions and shows. To learn more about Jennifer and her work you may visit her website at www.jenniferhellerzurick.com .

Artist's Statement

I aspire to create simple, elegant woven vessels that possess a richness of spirit and a presence embodying the soul of the tree from which they came. My creativity flows from an essential, intimate connection to the natural world and a fascination with old tribal textiles, finely woven functional containers, indigenous cultures, and ancient processes. As I experiment with various weaving techniques to inject texture, pattern, and rhythmic design elements, I continue to draw significantly upon the inspiration of early Native American basketry. Working exclusively with hand processed, natural fibers collected from my environment lends my basketry an organic, living essence that delights me and might otherwise be absent. Currently, my attraction to the exquisite work of contemporary master Japanese basket makers is incubating urges in a new direction. As this work evolves, I am compelled to create more refined, intricate, textile-like vessels, finding great satisfaction in emulating the art and integrity of fine basketry.

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