Anatomy of a Packbasket
September 26 to December 31, 2009
Anatomy of a Packbasket, TAUNY’s fall exhibit, looks at the history of the Adirondack packbasket and the process of making one. TAUNY Photography Director Martha Cooper spent several days in the woods and workshop of basketmaker Bill Smith of Colton. The result is this photographic description of the step-by-step process of creating this regional icon--from cutting the perfect black ash log to weaving in the final splints. The exhibit includes a display of antique and contemporary packbaskets.
Traditionally made from native black ash, the packbasket originated with Native Americans, who passed the form on to white settlers. Sturdy carriers for outsdoorsmen to wear on their back, packbaskets have in modern times been supplanted by factory-made nylon backpacks. Yet labor-intensive packbaskets are still made in this region, mostly as items for household use, and a few traditionalists still wear them in the woods.
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