Museum offers ash and sweetgrass fancy basket making workshop

The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor invites the public to learn how to make an ash and sweetgrass fancy basket with nationally acclaimed basket maker artist Molly Neptune Parker, Passamaquoddy. The event is set for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 13-14, at the museum, 26 Mount Desert St.

At the workshop, Parker will take students through the steps of weaving ash and sweetgrass into a basket. Participants will choose a basket mold from Molly’s collection. She will show students how to weave the dyed or natural brown ash around the mold. To finish the basket, participants will learn how to make decorative, colorful curls and add weavings of sweetgrass to the piece. Participants will leave with a beautiful basket of their own creation. Both days are necessary to complete a finished fancy basket, but it is possible to make a basic basket in one day of the workshop. It may not be possible, however, to create a lid and decorative elements if only participating in one day of the workshop.

Recently it was announced that Parker has been awarded the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. She has been making baskets for more than 50 years. During the 1950s, when traditional basket making experienced a decline in Maine, Parker was one of a handful of Wabanaki artists who carried on the centuries-old art form. She has been a leader in preserving and passing along her knowledge of basket making.

“Basket making, for me, is about innovation and creativity within the context of traditional art form,” she said.

Parker is the past president of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance and has mentored a number of young basket makers, including nationally acclaimed basket maker Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy. Frey received the 2011 Best of Show award at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market and at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Parker also has taught her grandson, George Neptune, Passamaquoddy, the skills of basket making.

Parker, Frey and Neptune all have work currently on display at the Abbe Museum in the exhibit “Transcending Traditions: The Next Generation of Maine Indian Basketry.”

The cost of the basket making workshop is $75 for one day, $120 for both days for museum members, $115 for one day, $160 for both days for all others, and includes individual membership to the Abbe Museum. The cost of materials is included in the price. Advance registration is required.

For information or to register for the workshop, call Raney Bench, curator of education, at 288-3519 or email


The New England Needle Festival will convene 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at First Congregational Church, 55 Elm St., in Camden. Spend a day or spend an hour with fellow knitters, rug hookers or stitches. Advance registration is $18, $22 at the door. Lunch, available only with advance registration, is $14. Registration deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 15. To register, visit For information, email or call 908-334-7125.

Singer Sewing Company announced recently that it has launched the SINGER One sewing machine. The new machine features one-touch stitch selection, an extra-large sewing space, drop-and-sew bobbin system and an automatic needle threader. For information, visit

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