© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
Eleanor B. Stebbins and Marion, by Frances and Mary Allen, c. 1905.
Beginning in 1905, Eleanor B. Stebbins sold the palm leaf, reed, willow, and pine needle creations of the Deerfield Basket Makers from her historic home near the Street in old Deerfield. A newspaper description of Eleanor's own sprouting willow baskets suggests that the basket maker took the Arts and Crafts love of organic design to its furthest logical conclusion:
"The baskets...made by Mrs. Eleanor Stebbins from rushes, willow withes and reeds are models of perfection in their line. The familiar pussy-willow lends itself well to the making of the substantial strong baskets for firewood or smaller ones for picnic use. The willow for a basket of this kind is worked into shape during the winter, a long process that is necessary to insure the perfectly cured and durable basket. Often, such is the persistence of the sap in the branches, the little furry pussy-willows can be seen coming out here and there on a finished piece of work."1
Vice president of the Society of Deerfield Industries between 1906 and 1907, Eleanor also served on the Society's Jury in 1907, and on its Executive Committee from 1912 to 1919.