Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Exploring the Art of Basketweaving

BY Kadi McDonald

Off U.S. Route 33 in Rockbridge, a small town near Logan, I met Leota Hutchinson, a woman who has transformed her 22-years of basket weaving experience into a business: Hutchinson’s Hilltop Haven.

In Hutchinson’s Hilltop Haven, you can learn to weave a basket or buy one of Hutchinson’s hand-woven designs. Either way a trip to her shop is an authentic country experience.

The shop sits atop a hill in the small town of Rockbridge, with a picturesque view of the surroundings. Hutchinson built the shop in 1991, after she outgrew her garage workspace.

Today, tourists from her neighbor’s, Cabin and Tipi Retreat— At Boulder’s Edge – spill into her shop. Tourists come year-round to enhance their country experience.

Some will simply purchase her products while others decide to spend the afternoon weaving a basket or two.

She shares her hobby with anyone interested in learning by teaching basket-weaving classes Monday through Saturday. Anyone interested in learning more or signing up to make a basket-weaving appointment contact Hutchinson at (740)385-8130.

A few of the baskets for sale include: decorative baskets, functional baskets and tote-bag baskets. Hutchinson uses different colors and vine, called rattan, which is grown in jungles, that she purchases from a New York company.

“They do it up real nice,” she says, referring to the one-pound rolls of vine she receives.

When working with beginners, Hutchinson teaches the “beginners’ basket”, a rectangular basket with a single handle. A basket takes approximately three hours to make and costs about $13. Students have the option to add color and walnut stain, both of which she makes herself.

Hutchinson usually keeps at least two of each type of basket on hand. “If somebody buys one, I make another one because I like to have a basket to look at,” she says. “I can read patterns, but it’s easier to look at a basket.”

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