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Weaving the Black Ash Pack Basket: Extended Session

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Course Overview

Ash pack baskets, large splint baskets that are typically fixed with a harness system and worn on the back, have a rich history here in the United States. Designed to carry heavy loads, the pliability and resiliency of the material make it some of the best to work with. Made well, these baskets can last for generations. Due to the time one must dedicate for material processing fresh from the log, we will start this five-day course by sorting, cutting, and scraping our choice, pre-pounded and pre-dried black ash splint. Design and lay-out will follow, prior to free-form weaving and setting to dry our custom baskets. A freshly harvested black ash log will be riven with froe, mallet, and wedges, giving us the wooden billets needed for handle, outer rim, and skid making. Once all of these parts have been prepared to basket specifications, participants will learn how to tightly lash it all together, creating a most serviceable, working basket. We will end our time together with building a custom-fitted harness using leather, buckles, and copper rivets. Participants can expect to learn about the subtle nuances of the weaving material, including how material thickness and tension play a key role in shaping baskets and how shrinkage alters the overall shape, once dry. This extended session will allow for students to make the wooden components of the basket from a log, working with a drawknife and shave-horse to carve billets to desired widths and lengths before steam bending into handle, rim, and skid shapes for each basket. Developing a greater understanding of what it takes to create such an artifact, as well as an increased appreciation for the finished basket, will be a key takeaway.

This process-heavy class will require hand strength, and students should feel comfortable using sharp tools. While no two baskets will be the same and all measurements are approximate, participants can expect to make baskets measuring approximately 11”x 6” x 15” (19” overall height w/ handle) or 12” x 7” x 17” (21” overall height w/ handle).

This course is part of Basket Week 2024! The class will pause on Friday, October 4 for the Basket Gathering Day full of lectures, demonstrations, and community gatherings. Class will resume on Saturday and conclude on Sunday.

Required Tools

  • All tools will be provided by the instructors

Optional Tools

  • Participants may feel free to bring along a favorite carving knife, scraping tool (for wood splint), work gloves, drawknife, and/or a strong pair of scissors


Session Information

A log-pounding station, designed to show the splint removal process, along with a plethora of baskets and resource material will be set up on site for further enhancement. Schedule note: This class runs through October 6. There is an error in the catalog where it lists that it runs through October 5. 


Tue, Oct 1st, 2024  –  Sun, Oct 6th, 2024

Course Details

Skill Levels: Beginner
Hours: 9am-5pm each day (no class October 4)
Tuition: $575.00
Materials fee: $165.00
Latest Update: View recent changes →

Meet the Instructor

Beth Homa Kraus
St.Paul, MN

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, April Ogimaakwe Stone
April Ogimaakwe Stone
Odanah, WI

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Weaving the Black Ash Pack Basket: Extended Session