Number 8 in our countdown to Backspace Forward is a small and lovely twined grass basket with cotton embroidery embellishment. As is the case with many pieces in the MCML collection, the craftsperson is unknown. The piece dates from circa 1900 – 1940, and is of Aleutian origin – an island range in the north pacific, just off the coast of Alaska.
Although the maker cannot be traced, we do know that the artist was highly skilled. The grass portion of the weaving is very precise and the fibres extremely fine. The embroidery thread applied in a “false embroidery” technique includes wonderful geometric shapes in a patterns that is understated yet simply beautiful.
“False embroidery” is a technique that gives an embroidered look to the finished item, but the coloured threads are actually wrapped around the weft fibres when they are on the exterior of the basket. They are applied gradually as the basket maker forms the basket, rather than during a separate process after the basket is completed.
For more about Aleutian baskets, here‘s a great place to start. And if you’re interested in exploring basket weaving skills with local materials, there’s a course being offered in this summer in Clearwater, MB. More info on that here.