By DAWN ARNEACH
QUALLA ARTS & CRAFTS
Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual recently has hosted classes for EBCI tribal members to learn the art of making river cane mats and pine needle baskets. The classes were funded by a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
River cane and Jim Long are becoming synonymous. Demands for mat classes taught by Long are heard almost every week at Qualla Arts & Crafts.
He just finished a week-long class the week of Feb. 4. Students in that beginning mat class learned to read graph paper to make a mat with the Cross on the Hill design.
Long prepares the river cane prior to the class by dyeing the splints and cutting them down to size.
Once everyone had about four rows of their mat completed, they would begin to see the design taking shape. Long would walk around the room and help when needed, or hold up their mat so they could see the design.
During the class, there was not much talking going on. Everyone was too busy counting “one up, two down, three up, five down” etc.
With finished mats in hand, people were all smiles and some even asked for kits to begin making mats with the Noon Day Sun design.
One student commented, “When you hang Jim’s mats up at Qualla, make sure to put mine right next to it so people can see how well his students learn from him.”
Nancy Hornbuckle taught a pine needle basket class the week of Feb. 18 at the Wolftown Community Building.
The first day, all of the students began their center ring in which the needles would wind around. Learning how to thread raffia through a needle was the hardest part. Once everyone had a few rows built, Hornbuckle showed everyone how to start rounding the rows to start making the sides of the basket.
The students made sure to end the top row evenly with the beginning of the basket, then use the rest of the raffia to edge the top row with an “X” design to finish it off.
After four evenings of working with raffia and long pine needles, students were proud of their finished baskets.
Comments were heard such as, “I am taking Best of Show” or “this will win me a Blue Ribbon.”
Hornbuckle even stated, “I guess I need to start making baskets for the Fair.”
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