Woven of Wood

East Tennessee Baskets, 1880-1940

March 17, 2014 to June 1, 2014
Rogers-Claussen Feature Gallery

Imagine doing away with shopping bags, plastic buckets, and manufactured storage tubs of today and depending instead upon baskets. You would quickly recognize the essential role that these hand-woven containers of wood played in bygone days. Baskets were some of the most functional and creative possessions in everyday life.

During the past year, the East Tennessee Historical Society has worked to document the traditional basket makers of our region. Materials and construction details have been recorded for baskets surveyed. For those baskets where the maker’s identity is known, family stories and photographs have also been collected. Woven of Wood, East Tennessee Baskets, 1880-1940 highlights selected examples from this survey.

Woven of Wood: East Tennessee Baskets, 1880-1940


Guest Curator:
Carole Wahler

Basket Survey Committee:
Carole Wahler
Susan Borden
Michele MacDonald

Related Resources:

Billy Ram Sims: Basket Maker

As a tie-in to Woven of Wood, the work of contemporary basket maker Billy Ray Sims is also on display. Now based out of Alabama, the Tennessee native has worked in a wide range of styles from South Carolina sweetgrass to New England black ash pack. He now weaves most exclusively in white oak styles. Sims produced the video, A Measure of the Earth, featured on this page, for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.