Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2001, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

previous page next page


    Some 40 years ago my mother was visiting on the Boston mountains. She saw a basket made from native material. She came home and made one just like it.
    The work was so interesting that she started making baskets to sell. She worked without instructions and used no measurements except those made by her eyes and her only tool was a sharp knife. In a homemade scrapbook she had 230 designs. Some from magazines, but most of them she drew herself.
    She would gather buck bush vines in the fall of the year, when sap went down, boil them for 3 or 4 hours to loosen the bark, then clean them with a cloth and trim the knots and soak them to make them pliable. Four or 5 rolls would make several baskets.
    She would also gather wild honeysuckle vines and prepare them in the same way. They can be gathered any time of the year. She would use those to cover bottles, mustard jars and fancy glasses for flower vases, trays, also make nut baskets and work baskets. She used the buck bush runners in making baskets of every description, baby bassinets, floor lamps, shopping baskets, vases, trays, wall baskets, bird cages and many other useful things too numerous to mention.
    She shipped her work to gift shops, greenhouses and department stores; and only made to order. She used the dyes of juices of bark from various trees. The profits from this work helped to educate her 5 children.
    My mother does not make baskets any more, as her health failed and she is old now; and it seems basketry is becoming a lost art. Some of us children learned to make baskets but did not love the work as she did. It was a hobby with her, as well as a profitable one.

Mellie Cole
October 1948

previous page | table of contents | next page