Friday, June 19, 2009

Featured Artist: JohnToftBasketry

I trade as JohnToftBasketry My Etsy Shop: because my imagination could not come up with a catchy name. The trade name combines my name with what I do, make baskets. I needed a unique name when I obtained my business licence several years ago, and have stayed with that prosaic decision ever since. is my twitter site. It's a variation on JohnToftBasketry only because Twitter could not handle all the letters in the longer name.

My blog shows the same imaginative choice of words as That blog is a combination of everything you could possible want to know about basket-making as well as a few stories on the trials and tribulations of raising an autistic person to adulthood, plus other topics that caught my interest.

My baskets are where my imagination and love of colour and design are allowed to be free. My baskets combine English and North American basket-making techniques in beautiful and whimsical manners that produce goods that are a joy to behold and own. The baskets combine three kinds of natural materials: willow and grapevine grown in my garden in suburban Ottawa, and rattan cane imported from China and Indonesia.

I specialize in three main types of baskets: sewing baskets (English style), rib baskets and market baskets (North American style). My blog of June 9th has an eight-step tutorial that shows how to make a tray with basket edging from kits I have put together. This is an easy introduction to basket-making for beginners.

I was introduced to basket-making over 50 years ago as a child at elementary school in England in craft classes. There my twin brother and I so enjoyed basket-making, and got so caught up in competing with each other to exceed each other, that the school almost ran out of supplies. About a dozen years ago I told the story of this basket-making odyssey to my wife Anne, and a basket-making book appeared as a Christmas gift. So began my saga as a basket-maker.