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I will admit that even though I had dreams, heard voices, saw physical evidence in the news paper ad, just appearing in a armful of crumpled newspaper pages in my arms, and even just walking through the basketry supply shop and not knowing what to get but just spontaneously picking up the supplies, we as humans tend to still be filled with self doubt, even after all of this I thought how in the world will I learn to use the materials?

Self doubt is not a good thing even when all these things are given to you and you still doubt that you can do these things. I guess it is just human nature, even though I try hard to this day, to not doubt that God will come through for me.

If only other human beings had as much faith in me as what God does.

Now, the way I learned to weave baskets………………God’s Classroom!

I bought the supplies and got them home, looking at them and wondering what in the world do I do with them, several days and nights passed, assuming now that God wanted to see if I would loose faith that he would show me what to do with these supplies. I did go to bed one night and ask when I would learn what to do with these?

In the night I had a dream and “They “ came to me in a dream, simply saying ‘WE MUST GO NOW”, and we did go, whether in a dream or otherwise, we went.  to a kind of white misty place that went on forever the say it looked, and in the midst of the nothingness was a white walled room, which had a window in it, I was told to go into the room.

In the room where everything was white, I mean everything , it was like a little kitchen area with a sink, cabinets  a kindergarten sized table and little chairs, on the table was a white bucket, scissors, reed, vines, awl, just an assortment of weaving materials. When they told me to sit down my instructor would be with me, but that they needed to go , the instructor would be with me shortly.

I sat there looking at the table of supplies, then all the sudden it sounded like you were sitting right under Niagra Falls the deafening sound of rushing waters, and an invisible presence just over came me, completely enveloping me and I was in another place but still in the same place! The area was full of color and amazing it had a wall in it with huge squares  (believe it or not like the wall on Wheel of Fortune but only two levels of squares but long, with many squares and they were large, and on then at first slowly pictures and pictures of baskets, all type all sizes, all styles from all of time every type you could imagine, and the pictures in color, black and white, sepia, and they were going so fast that I could not comprehend what they were. I thought  “too fast” and a powerful voice said, when you need knowledge you will have the knowledge, another voice said it is time to go back and shwooosh thud, I was setting straight up in the bed,

MitchellWebster_3All I know is just gathering the supplies in the basketry shop, I just started weaving the ribbed baskets. Ribbed baskets were what it was to be. however this was not to be the end of dreams, nor the strange but wonderful  ideas to come to me. Really I should never have self doubt of any kind, to have self doubt in tis case is to doubt in the power of God.

Over a period of several years, I did purchase books on basketry when ordering supplies, curious not to copy designs of others that has never been something I desired to do, it has always been here is a design, how can I create it to be different, uniquely mine. how can I expound on this?

MitchellWebster_6-003After a while of doing this, I would just start getting ideas in my head on different ways to do different baskets how to manipulate materials, gather materials, etc. to weave baskets, Over they years I have thought of uses of many things in baskets that I have never employed in the designs, living in a traditional to country style basket area, then I did not know what an “ART BASKET” was (one which is viewed as non-functional)  that  is viewed for beauty and artistry rather than work  and function.

Over the years I got ideas of what to do by thinking about them, or thinking of what I had to work with on hand and an idea would come to my mind. About 5 years ago I was driving down the road and was thinking of a new basket I wanted to design (I find driving down the road is a nice time of peace and solitude and ideas usually come very freely to me. This time I thought about it and a picture of a finished basket appeared in my mind, somewhat 3 dimensional  and in color, I thought WOW, this is nice and for years this happened and very freely.

It was two years ago on a summer day, driving back to the valley from Charlottesville, I can clearly remember the day and the location of a turning point in my life. I had just turned off Earlysville Road, onto Simmon’s Gap Road, basketry hoops (the wide ones are in short supply) I thought to myself how can I do this, weave ribbed baskets without two hoops, I said Lord, I need a basket design using only a single hoop, a very unique basket bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary appeared and was a hybrid basket, (the marriage of two different basketry styles together into one new basket form.)  to this day I now have over 50 variations for 50 unique one of kind works based on this hybrid design.

MitchellWebster_4I digressed there, while seeing this design as usual in my head (eyes open, driving, not asleep)  I thought this is so different!!! I just wish I could see the ends and bottom to see better a visual of how the basket is constructed, then an audible voice said use your mind to turn the basket, you can see any part you wish to see, and do you know it worked and works on them all to this very day. I can turn the baskets 360 degrees and in all directions  and even look inside the basket. (who needs a book, when you can do this. ) ?

I have often wondered how I can execute these designs from my mind to real time, however it does not seem to be the time for these designs yet, car breakdowns every month for the past 6 months have plagued me and kept me from ordering the materials to do these, plus the use of a drill press, and fine saw  for the hoop work. any way I will do them when God says it is time. also different for me is that I do not use a lot of color in my baskets and the last 3 designs have had Red in them, and I know I am to use Cochineal Beetles as there was a bowl in the picture with the basket. (Cochineal Beetles make beautiful red dye, used in dying basketry materials as well as other natural fibers and as a a coloring in foods as well)

Click on the picture above to be taken to a history of the use of Cochineal beetles as a colorant down through the ages.

So this is my life in weaving and caning in a nutshell, as with the chair caning that came as simply as weaving did also. people kept asking me if I would hand cane chairs, baskets slowed down, and after telling people NO, this customer asked and a voice said say Yes. I did and the techniques and principles are the same as for basketry, and I could indeed hand cane and do the other forms of seat weaving..

So it was not just a dream, these mental pictures are pretty much a daily  thing now and the designs grown in intricacy, detail and complexity as time goes by.

This is the way it is. that is all that I can say.