Pamela Smith, Elizabethtown, KY
PS Sentimentally Yours
Pine Needle Baskets
Pamela G. Smith, a Kentucky native, has always loved handmade things. She discovered pine needle raffia basketry while living in northern Idaho in 1979. She instantly fell in love with the intricacy; the open work reminded her of her grandmother’s tatting.
During the Civil War a southern woman from Georgia, began making hats for field workers using pine needles stitched together with cotton thread. In the early 1900’s, basket makers of European descent added wire shapes and used raffia to create woven patterns to cover and fill in the wire shapes.
Pine needle baskets are coiled, with the pine needles held together by raffia, a fibrous inner layer of palm leaves. The raffia is soaked in cool water to soften it, then is torn into strips that can be sewn. The strip of raffia is threaded on a sewing needle and the pine needles are hand stitched together using various stitch patterns and guided to shape, as desired using fingers on the opposite hand.
Pamela teaches classes in Pine needle basketry to promote the survival of this craft.
Pamela’s work can be found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.