Deerfield's Progressive Impulse

Well-made Baskets for the dutiful consumer

Pocumtuck Baskets

This raffia basket, attributed to Gertrude Ashley,is an example of the work of Deerfield's Pocumtuck Basket Makers. Their work tended to place greater emphasis on decorative detail than did the work of the Deerfield Baskets Makers. The Pocumtuck Basket Makers were known for their raffia baskets often featuring interestingly shaped handles and colorful designs. In contrast to the ruffled and ribbon-bedecked department store basket, however, the decorative features of the Pocumtuck Basket were integrated into the work as the basket maker coiled raffia strips around the reeds forming its structural support. The work's handles were made "by continuing the reed." In this way the handle was integrated into the basket, and thus solved the perennial problem of "the difficulty in fastening them neatly and firmly" to the vessel.1 The natural malleability of the reed allowed for handles with a wide variety of unique shapes.

  1. Gertrude Ashley and Mildred Porter Ashley, Raffia Basketry as an Art, (Deerfield: Published by the Authors), 1915, second edition 1921, p, 16.

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© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Raffia Basket

Pocumtuck Basket Makers, c. 1915.

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