Anatomy of A Packbasket

Anatomy of a Packbasket, TAUNY’s (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) fall exhibit, will open at the TAUNY Gallery 53 Main St., Canton, New York on Saturday, September 26, 2009. An Opening Reception will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. The exhibit will look at the history of the packbasket and illustrate the step-by-step process of making one, from cutting the perfect black ash log to weaving in the final splints.

This style of basket was developed for use as a means of carrying the heavy loads needed for hunting, fishing, trapping and other pursuits in the mountain wilderness of the Adirondacks in New York State. Most early Adirondack pack baskets were made using hand pounded Black ash woodsplints split to satin. They have a flat or slightly curved back and a "belly" that bows out somewhat to increase the volume of the contents the pack could hold. A leather or woven webbing harness with adjustable shoulder straps allows the basket to be worn comfortably on the guide or hunter's back. Packbaskets are still made in this region, mostly as items for household use but a few traditionalists still wear them in the woods. The exhibit will include a display of antique and contemporary packbaskets along with photographs by Martha Cooper, who spent several days with Adirondack basketmaker Bill Smith. The exhibit will remain on display through late November.

TAUNY is dedicated to showcasing the folk culture and living traditions of the North Country. The TAUNY Gallery and Folkstore are at 53 Main St. in Canton. Hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit TAUNY.org.

For more about Black Ash Baskets, including Adirondack Packbaskets, visit BasketMakers.com

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