Friday, November 18, 2011


"We did sit together under big trees in my grandmother's yard which was next door to where I live.  And so we would assemble, during the daytime, after we finished our household chores.  And then we would make baskets"
-Mary Jackson (excerpt from interview found here)

Sweetgrass creations along Meeting Street
Charleston, South Carolina

Photos my own

Some of the most hospitable ladies in Charleston are the sweetgrass baskets ladies.  These ladies are part historians, preservationists and above all they are artists.  Unique to the Gullah communities of coastal South Carolina and Georgia, notably Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, these ladies practice a craft passed down through the centuries.  Made of native sweetgrass, longleaf pine needles and bound by palmetto each basket is a work of art.  Mary Jackson, a MacArthur Fellow, is a master of this craft.

From the MacArthur Foundation site:

"Mary Jackson is a fiber artist whose intricately coiled vessels preserve the centuries-old craft of sweetgrass basketry and push the tradition in stunning new directions. A descendent of the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina, Jackson learned to make baskets at the age of four from her mother and grandmother, who passed on skills brought to the United States by their West African ancestors."

To hear Mrs. Jackson talk about her work, click here

I started collecting sweetgrass baskets years ago during my engagement and started out by visiting the roadside stalls lining Highway 17 in Mt. Pleasant, SC in search of the perfect baskets for my bridesmaids.  Like friendships, sweetgrass baskets increase in value through the years.

Photo my own

Arthuree Bennett-holding one of the twelve baskets I had made

My collection below

I use them as serving pieces, decor and everyday purposes

While I use my baskets frequently, here interior designer Bunny Williams displays a collection as art

source unknown

If unable to visit Charleston and Highway 17, some of these ladies have entered the information superhighway.  Some sources below


Preservation Society of Charleston


Tiffany from HOLIDAY said...

This is so neat and I'm so happy you suggested this. What a fun experience!

Jennifer C. Webb said...

Tiffany: check out the ladies in area around Broad and Meeting Streets. Would be a loveley memento of your trip

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