The Nantucket basket, the wooden-bottomed, finely made rattan basket, often called a “Lightship Basket”, evolved from the oldest of crafts. A great variety of baskets were used by white settlers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the Native American’s made and used baskets for storage and the transport of household goods. Early baskets were made with materials that were readily available at the time, namely ash, oak, or hickory. In the early eighteenth century, as whaling ships had to travel further into the Pacific Ocean, they brought back a material called rattan. The introduction of rattan into the weaving process is one of the key elements that create the distinctive look of a Nantucket basket. Other elements are a turned flat wood bottom and the use of a mold.
As maritime traffic increased, the demand for safer navigation became louder. The United States government authorized and commissioned lightships to mark coastlines and noted dangers. The first Nantucket lightship was built in 1853, called Nantucket South Shoal, it was anchored off the Davis South Shoal. The crew was divided into two watches and they divided work evenly. To occupy their free time and to make extra money, sailors took basket making materials on board. It was in 1856 that the first record of bringing basket molds on board was recorded. For the next fifty years, lightships were anchored off Nantucket. The year 1905 saw the end of service by the Nantucket islanders. It is from this era that the basket received the “Lightship Basket” moniker.
Basket with Bail Handle
August 13th - August 16th
8:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.
Come take this four day class and learn how to weave this traditional basket. Our design is based on elements found on early Nantucket baskets. The base is made of cherry and the staves, rim and handle are made of oak. The handle is attached to the hand carved wooden ears with copper rivets. This class will introduce you to the entire method of basket making. You will even have the opportunity to steam bend your rim and handle. The skills you develop in this class can be applied to other Nantucket basket forms.
8" diameter x 6" high at rim.
Basket with Heart Handles
The design and construction of this traditional basket is similar to the bail handled basket, except it is shorter and has two heart shaped handles.
8" diameter x 4-1/2" high at rim.