Family gathering at Grandma and Grandpa's house in the 1960's. Grandpa John, shown here with his carving knife and sharpener, was the life of the party when we went to visit. I am sitting at head of table with my sister Gail on one side and cousin Brendan and my brother Neal on the other side of me.
When I moved into my new apartment in the late '70's I had this picture take with the accumulation of my first baskets that I later sold at Saturday Market.
How I have come to do this work
Two themes have run together in my life – saving lives and weaving. Many know of my career in highway construction, representing several safety product manufacturers, for Coral Sales Company. But even before then, as supervisor of long distance operators in the graveyard shift, I was constantly working with the police on emergency calls. In both jobs I would go home knowing I had made a difference and my efforts at some point would save lives.
In my late twenties I learned of Oral Histories and was able to get my grandfather’s favorite stories down into a book which I reproduced and distributed throughout the family. I, once again, had found a different way to save lives. Seeing how my grandfather relaxed, knowing his stories won’t be forgotten gave me another layer of satisfaction. There was joy and peace at the family gatherings once again because he wasn't dominating the conversations constantly repeating his childhood stories. In fact, I felt a calling to save more stories of people’s lives, so much in fact, that I quit my highway sales career and started my own business.
A second passion in my life has been basket weaving. Inspired by a “weaving with natural fibers” class at Portland Community College, I began weaving baskets, first using pine needle and cedar bark, then yarn and synthetic fibers. I was extremely fortunate to be able to participate in two basket weaving symposiums with Native Americans in Washington State where I met several basket weavers from Oregon with a similar love of the art. We came back to Portland and founded the Columbia River Basketry Guild, still going strong for over twenty five years.
My work now takes the pieces of these two passions, saving lives and weaving. I am now a weaver of stories. After hearing the memories of my client I weave them together into a story that captures a clear narrative of my client’s life. Each life is special and gives me an opportunity to call upon my creative skills to share the uniqueness of their story.