Paula Thorne 2010 Traditional Arts Master

The Maine Arts Commission recently announced the 2010 Traditional Arts Masters. Greg Boardman, a fiddler from Auburn, Thomas Cote, an Acadian woodcarver from Limestone, Normand Gagnon, a Quebecois accordionist from Rumford, Susan Barrett Merrill, a weaver and spinner from Brooksville, and Paula Thorne, a Penobscot basketmaker from Exeter will each teach their traditional arts to apprentices during the next 12 months.

Every community has cultural traditions worth preserving. Many times those cultural traditions are preserved by someone in the community who has mastered and practices a traditional art. Each year the Maine Arts Commission offers stipends to master traditional artists who are willing to teach an apprentice over a period of 8 to 12 months. The apprenticeships have been used by basket makers, fiddle players, step dancers, ox yoke makers, snowshoe makers, and ballad singers, just to name a few. For their work teaching, the master artist receives a $4000 stipend which is funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Folk and Traditional Arts program.

Master Penobscot basket maker Paula Thorne, from Exeter, will be teaching her apprentice, Emily Bell, how to collect and prepare the brown ash tree for basket making. Known as the 'basket tree,' brown ash provides the best natural material for making splints, the pliable strips of wood used for weaving baskets. According to Thorne, selecting and preparing 'your materials' is one of the most difficult parts of mastering traditional basketry.

For information about any of the Maine Arts Commission's Traditional Arts programs, visit www.MaineArts.com.

For more information about Black ash basketry visit www.BasketMakers.com.

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