Craftsmen Learn Nantucket Weaving at Spring Arts Festival

A small group of students gathered at the Olde Southworth Library on Saturday were there to learn a functional art practiced over a century ago by sailors around Nantucket: basketry.

The class, taught by Weaver Trisha Brown-Medeiros of DELS Nantuckets, was part of the South Coast Spring Arts Festival.

Brown-Medeiros asked the students to start with something simple: make their own woven wood bracelets.

“It’s a fairly easy course,” she says. “The goal is to have something to do and to have something to go with. When you get into baskets it’s a bit more tedious and something you can’t finish in a matter of hours. ”

The students started by choosing the width of their bracelet, then the colored sticks – strips of wood – that they wanted to use, along with a few wrist measurements to make sure the finished product would fit.

Once the sizes were determined, the artisans placed the sticks on a mold while they wove the cane bark around it. Since most of the students had half-inch bracelets, they weaved in an over-under pattern.

Those who opted for the quarter-inch bracelets only had to use one scope, and instead wrapped the weaver around it.

“It’s a little hard on your fingers,” said Erin McHugh, a Dartmouth resident.

Once fully woven, Brown-Medeiros coated the bracelets with polyurethane to make them more durable and complemented them with acrylic end caps.

New Yorkers Jasmin Kirk and Demisha Nesbitt said they plan to gift their crafts to their boyfriends. Although Nesbitt thinks hers “will probably never wear it.”

With the glue dried on her double brace, McHugh said she wanted to wear it immediately.

“I love these bracelets,” she said, adding that she and her friend Debbie Brooke love an excuse to be back safely at the Olde Southworth Library. “It’s the key to happiness here.”

Brown-Mediros said the workshop will hopefully inspire students to learn more about regional crafts and perhaps move on to more advanced crafts like baskets.

Lisa Carney, a Dartmouth resident, said at first “nobody really knew what to do” but once the class got into a rhythm, “it was a lot easier” than anyone thought.

“I didn’t think we would walk away with anything,” Carney laughs, adding that she will “certainly be back for the next one” on June 5th.

About Edward Weddle

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