Baskets from Nature

Basket with Date Palm Inflorescence

When I first learned to weave a basket form during my last year of college, I lived in Tucson and looked for inexpensive materials to work with.  Thus began my love affair with the multi textured and colored date palm inflorescence (the stalk that the dates actually form on.)  I would comb my neighborhood after windstorms for downed stalks and make residents happy by taking away their “green waste.”  As they say, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure!”

Preparing the inflorescence takes cleaning, drying and stripping the usable weavers and isn’t easy on your hands.   But the varied size, texture and color of the material ensures a finished product that is always unique.  It translates the beauty of the desert or coastal environment where the palm trees grow into a lasting piece of art.



Stirring The Pot

We are a nation of immigrants, often referred to as a “melting pot.” When I was younger, I thought (although somewhat naively) that I would see a day when we would all intermarry and produce one similar shade of brown.  

In my studio, I was inspired by the subtle organic color differences that I could achieve using different dyes that I applied to my gourds.  They ended up resembling human skin tones.  The gourds all came from the earth, and, with slight similarities and differences, were joined together, and will all eventually return to the earth, giving life to new growth.  

The Girls

The Girls Hang Together

By Sherri West

The time was Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  Barbie Dolls, The Lennon Sisters and Miss America made appearances on our television sets in black and white.

We wore metal roller skates with keys, ran through the sprinkler in the summer, got red Kool-aid mustaches, played jacks and hop scotch and chased the boys at noon recess at school.  Our mothers made meatloaf and apple pie with a lard crust, and sent us out to play in the neighborhood when we got home from school.

In junior high, we pined for more than a training bra, listened to our mothers say, "Stand up straight" while we were concealing our flat chests with books carried in our arms, and then we listened to the "early girls" whisper about boys' hands in the movie theater.

In high school, the breasts stood out, the breasts got dates, and we gossiped about the girls whose breasts got them into "trouble," which meant that they disappeared from school that year.

In college, in pursuit of big ones, we believed exercises, "we must, we must, we must enlarge our bust" worked to fill out our unpadded bras. We read Ms. Magazine, hung posters of Burt Reynolds in our dorm rooms, listened to Gloria Steinem, and then, burned our bras.  The little daily pill meant breasts for sex.

We worked hard, we dressed our breasts "for success," and then we got married.  We saved our breasts for our husbands.  Still, the little pill was our friend.

Then, the ticking time clock went off and we had babies.  We learned the real reason for breasts.  And, we were tired.  Long days and long nights found us dreaming of breasts for sex again.  

Mother's breasts and time passed in the blink of an eye.  Madonna came and went.  Our little girls learned about breasts and lots of other things from Britney.  Thongs were no longer worn on your feet, and "tweens" wore mini-skirts and scoop neck shirts.

We worried that our daughters' breasts would find their way to Internet sex, Facebook and phone photos.  We bought them sports bras and drove them to soccer practice hoping to court college scholarships.  We taught them about safe sex and explained why the dentist now diagnoses STDs, and we wondered if they would ever want to get married.

We spent time at the club exercising and hoping our breasts wouldn't sag like some of the locker room grandmas.  With television, Hollywood, and the miracles of modern science, we now had access to augmented breasts with our daily news and in our own home town.  We too, could be perfect, perky, sexy.