Traditional techniques get contemporary interpretations as members of the Bay Area Basket Makers transform a variety of natural materials, handmade papers, found objects & uncommon fibers into vessels, baskets, and sculptural forms.
The Bay Area Basket Makers Guild (BABM) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1984 by two basket makers who saw the need for supporting and developing a growing interest in basketry as both craft and art form. The guild serves as a source of information and inspiration and provides a means of communication among basket makers.
Currently BABM has close to 80 members, of which more than half are active in guild activities. Most are from the greater Bay Area, but some now live in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah. Membersʼ skills range from beginner to professional, and new members at all levels of expertise are welcome. Some make baskets for fun and as a hobby, while others work as professional artists, exhibiting their work in local, national and international venues. Many have been recognized and have won awards for their work. One member holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the smallest, lidded pine needle basket – made out of one pine needle. Some members are also well-known and well-loved instructors.
Baskets can be constructed from an amazing variety of materials, using many different techniques. Some BABM basket makers like to specialize in a specific technique and with specific materials, and some use traditional techniques such as plaiting and coiling with traditional, natural materials.
Others use traditional techniques with unusual natural and recycled materials, including telephone wire, plastic bags, fabric, cable ties, handmade paper, kelp and horsehair. Still others use nontraditional techniques, and some like to try everything at least once, coming up with imaginative styles and combinations. Any material that can be woven into a vessel can be experimented with, much to the delight of all members.
Activities at the Guildʼs monthly meetings focus on specific techniques and/or materials and members spend several hours learning together. Usually one member will provide the demonstration and instruction, but the Guild also invites experts in the field to give a workshop.
Along with having shown frequently as a group since 1994 at the Gualala Arts Center, BABM has enjoyed success at the Danville Art Center, the Castro Valley Library, the Davisville Travel Agency Window Gallery in Davis, the Albany Arts Gallery, the Thoreau Gallery at the Presidio in San Francisco, and at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center. BABM is a member of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) representing the only basketry group in the organization. Guild members also participate and exhibit as a group at the yearly CNCH conferences.