Traditions that are handed down from generation to generation bind people to their past and connect them to their future. Basket weaving is one such tradition prevalent in the lowcountry and throughout the southeast . It is the foundation of our unique Sweetgrass Touch Collection Hardware.
Dating back to slavery, coiled basket weaving is one of the oldest forms of African-American art.
Sweetgrass is harvested in the spring and summer by "pullers," who slip it out of its roots like knives from sheaths. Weavers then put fresh grasses out in the sun to dry for several days to weeks, depending on the season. Longleaf pine needles are used to decorate baskets, and strips of palmetto leaves are used to stitch the coils together.
The tools used include a pair of scissors and a "nailbone". A nailbone is used for piercing when making a Sweetgrass basket. History tells us a rib bone from a cow or pig was filed down for this purpose, but today most basket weavers use a filed down silver spoon, fork or even a nail. Each basket begins about the same with a coiled circular or oval shaped bottom, but from there can become a hundred different styles.
The lightest color in the coiled basket or our knob/pull insert is Sweetgrass. By the way, it is called this because of its pleasant fragrance, similar to fresh cut hay. In the fall it blooms prominently with a beautiful, wispy, purple colored plume. The brown color is pine needle and the narrow light strips crossing the coil are the strips of palmetto leaves. A small basket of a simple design can take up to twelve hours to complete, while a larger complex design can take months.
Sweetgrass products value
Sweetgrass baskets are used in home décor and also tools of daily life, such as a clothes or yarn basket. A well-made basket might last 40 years.
Sweetgrass baskets command a high price from collectors. Show pieces can be found at the Smithsonian Institute, the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston, the Charleston Visitor Center, Charleston International Airport and homes and museums around the world.
A medium-sized basket, which can take 12 hours or more to make, can cost $400 or more.