Oh, what a beautiful basket they weave at League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in Nashua
“A lot of people come because it’s their night out,” said Boland during a Friday afternoon class. “They come to basket-making class once a week and they hang out and chat. A lot of companionship.”
Boland, who has a full-time job in addition to owning the League shop on Main Street, got her start more than 10 years ago with instructor Lynn Schlichting.
Students of all levels are welcome at the classes. They can come with an idea in mind, or just follow Boland’s lead as she guides them from the simplest to subtlest details of the craft.
“You can actually go from tiny to ginormous,” she said. “Medium-size baskets are what we usually start with. Small baskets are harder than big baskets. You can’t get your fingers in there so that can be a little bit harder.”
Primarily she works with rattan reed, a bamboo-like plant known for its pliable, durable qualities. Black ash, which is indigenous to this region, also produces a fine material for basket weaving, but it is costly and in short in supply.
“I work a lot with paper,” too, she said, “140-pound water-color paper, 100-percent cotton, and I paint it with acrylic paint and then cut the paper into strips using a pasta machine.”
Non Finkelstein has been studying with Boland since the very beginning, when the shop opened more than two years ago.
“Ruth is wonderful at helping you do design if you have a special basket to make,” said Finkelstein, fast at work on a waste basket destined for her daughter’s bathroom.
Classes are three hours long. Finkelstein said she would finish her basket over the course of two classes.
“I enjoy the challenge,” she said. “Some baskets are hard, and I enjoy that. And I enjoy the company.”
Finkelstein said she’s made dear friends in class, “people that I would miss very much if I didn’t come to basket class.”
Basket-making supplies can be hard to come by, Finkelstein said, and the shop is one of the only sources in the area.
Students make baskets for various reasons. Some enjoy their utility, while others find tranquility in the work.
“It is very relaxing,” Boland added. “On one hand, when you’re working on a complicated pattern, you can’t think about anything else. You’re thinking about what you’re working on.”
Classes take place every Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30, as well as Thursday nights from 6:15 to 9:15.
The cost is $20 per class, plus materials, or $60 a month.
An array of arts classes are available at the shop as well, on subjects from stained glass to jewelry making to intuitive drawing.
For more information visit the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen at nhcrafts.org, or call the Nashua store at 603-595-8233.
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