Fiber artist Heidi Wetzel is distinguished in Talbot County, Md. for her creation of popular hand-woven basket vases, and she'll share her tricks of the trade with Milfordians in a new beginner's workshop at the Mispillion Art League on Saturday, March 15.
Fiber artist Heidi Wetzel is distinguished in Talbot County, Md. for her creation of popular hand-woven basket vases, and she’ll share her tricks of the trade with Milfordians in a new beginner’s workshop at the Mispillion Art League on Saturday, March 15.
What is it?
A basket vase is a wooden basket that has been fitted with an open glass container. The basket is created with reeds woven around the glass, which acts like a molding. To add pizzazz to the baskets, creators can weave them with ambitious patterns and dye the reeds in different colors. Since the baskets double as vases, they are perfect for holding fresh flowers. Wetzel says many of her customers adore her basket vases because they’re “beautiful and functional.”
In next Saturday’s workshop, Wetzel will supply all of the materials and teach participants to weave a simple, colorful basket vase. She won’t inform the class how to weave snazzy patterns since that’s an advanced-level technique. She says, however, making an easy basket vase doesn’t mean it has to look dull. For instance, Wetzel has decorated the exterior of some of her vases with sea shells. Hence, she’s encouraging her students to bring their own unique embellishments to style their works.
Slow and steady
It’s taken Wetzel more than four years to progress from making simple basket vases the size of a mixing bowl to now creating some that are taller than 3 feet. While it’s taken a lot of patience to develop her skills, Wetzel appreciates her humble beginnings because it fueled her drive to make baskets. She hopes her students will feel the same after completing her workshop.
"When I remember my first workshop, I learned how to make a fairly small basket," said Wetzel. "I loved it. I’ve been to other workshops since, and I realized if I started out with a different kind of basket that was more complicated, I might not be doing what I’m doing today. So I like to start my students off easy.”
Whether someone is a novice or an expert in the trade, there’s a sense of accomplishment that follows once they get to look at their finished product: a creation they made with their own two hands.
"It’s easy to go to the shop and buy something and enjoy it," Wetzel said. "But when you’ve made it yourself, it’s special."
Wetzel is passionate about helping others create their own works of art because she’s a former elementary school teacher. She last taught special education at Tilghman Elementary School in Maryland and retired in the late 1990s.
A few years ago, she held her first basket-vase workshop after many people she knew kept asking if she taught a course.
"It’s not something that was part of my plan," Wetzel said, but “teaching is in my blood.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT Weave a basket vase with Heidi Wetzel
WHEN 10 to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 14
WHERE Mispillion Art League, 5 N. Walnut St., Milford
COST $75 for non-members, $65 for members
INFO Visit mispillionarts.org or call (302) 430-7646