Since the early 19th century, the mountaineers of Appalachia have made berry baskets from the slipping bark of yellow or tulip poplar trees in the late spring and early summer months. The forestry crew has had the privilege of learning this old-time craft from a native of this region who, like many others, learned it from his father and grandfather.
Students working on the summer crew harvest several small-diameter poplars for the baskets, as well as several small hickories for the straps. The outer poplar bark is stripped off of small poplar logs, and is bent into the correct shape. The inner hickory bark is cut into strips and soaked, then tied onto the main part of the basket.
Baskets made by the Warren Wilson College forestry crew are currently being displayed and sold at the New Morning Gallery, in Asheville.
(Crew member Julie Larsen learns to make hickory bark straps from our basket-expert, Blan)
(Cella Langer gets strap-making tips from Blan)
(Cella and Blan peel the inner bark from a small hickory log)
(Baskets on display at New Morning Gallery in Asheville)