Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mississippi River Driftwood Baskets

Since we live and work near the Mississippi River, we love to sing its praises. Not only does this wonderful river give us fish, transportation, and recreation, it gives us little things...its beauty in a sunrise, a shore along which to stroll, and occasionally, a wonderful sculpted piece of driftwood.

The wall baskets I created the past two weeks gave me such satisfaction! The handles are all gifts of the river. Sometimes I try to alter a piece to make it shorter, or trim off something that doesn't look quite right to me. Then I realize just how much better the river does at smoothing and sculpting the wood!

The baby of the family....

This little guy is the smallest basket, at just 4 1/2" tall. Little baskets are tedious, but the result is often more satisfying than a larger piece.

My personal favorite

Don't you love how this handle undulates? I almost did a little dance when I found this piece!

The handle dictates the size and shape of the basket. Balance is important so the size of the handle tells me how big the basket should be. (I like the one with the "X" handle...the branches grafted together with the resulting amazing piece of driftwood, bark still intact.)

Mississippi River Driftwood Wall Baskets

Driftwood inspires me!
The past two weeks I have been creating wall baskets using Mississippi River driftwood. The river flows just a block from The Bent Tree Gallery, our physical rustic showroom in Clarksville, Missouri, just north of St. Louis. All summer the river has threatened to flood, and has in fact been up well into our Riverfront Park. I have been gathering interesting driftwood as I walk my Grandogs, and found time recently to incorporate some of the interesting and quirky pieces into wall baskets. Now mounted and for sale on a wall of the gallery, here they are!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1800 square feet of refined rustic comfort! If you are ever in our area, we would love to have you visit. We are located 43 miles north of I-70 on Hwy 79. This highway becomes The Great River Road at Clarksville, as it begins to travel along the Mississippi River going north. We are open Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5, and on Sundays from noon-5. Other shops in our town include photography, windsor chairs, jewelry, glass, pottery, fine craft/art co-op gallery, up-cycled and vintage clothing, a native American drum painter, as well as antique shops and an antique mall. We have restaurants, a golf course, a winery, Mississippi River Lock and Dam #24, lots of historic homes, and various B&Bs. PLUS...all the charm that accompanies a small eclectic river town.

Almost everyone who visits says this is an interesting place!

Our gallery is a new building, but it looks old. That's because the carpenters built it using blueprints from the building which was built on this spot in 1906. Clarksville's business district is on the National Historic Register, and we are blessed to be part of this artsy little community.

Our Brick-and-Mortar Gallery

Here is an image of part of The Bent Tree Gallery, our shop in Clarksville, Missouri. We carry rustic furniture and accents, baskets and fiber art, and one-of-a-kind leather handbags. All items are made by my husband, daughter, and me. We love what we do!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thank you, rustic chair students!

Despite the extreme weather over the weekend (hot and humid, Sunday morning downpour), this class of students was a real blessing! Thank you for your great attitudes; it was a pleasure to work with all of you!

Our classes are available year round; contact us at our gallery for a schedule or more information. Our number is 573-242-3200. We keep our classes small. This enables a better teacher-student ratio, and also makes it easier to arrange a class.

Classes include chairs, loveseats (w/ chair prerequisite), basketmaking, felting, gourd embellishment, needlefelting, etc. In fact, if we can do it with skill, we are willing to teach it.

Maria, your chair looks so comfortable!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Katheryn and Susan's "ahhhhhh" moment!
A toast to a job well done!!!!
Champagne moment for Lindell and Sheryl. Great job!

Last step: Lindell gives his chair a 'haircut'.

Student-teacher Conference with Teacher John

Katheryn's sister, Susan, helps adjust the seat sticks.

Lindell and Sheryl moved inside out of the rain; they are quickly finishing their masterpiece.

Kathryn even brought her own canopy, which turned out to be a WONDERFUL idea, since we had a downpour this morning (Sun.)
This is a Saturday-Sunday class, with the chairs getting completed sometime Sunday afternoon. This weekend we have had both heat (Sat-Sun) and rain (Sun a.m.). But the students have persevered and are turning out some lovely pieces.

Rustic Chair Class

This weekend, my husband, John, a master rustic furniture maker/artist, has been teaching a chair class here in Clarksville. The 'classroom' is a little outdoor courtyard just down the block from our gallery. The maximum class size is 3 chairs, and students can make one by themselves, or do it jointly with wife/husband, friend, relative, etc. This weekend he had 2 couples and a sister/sister team.

It has been hot hot HOT, but everyone is such a good sport with the heat.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some are colorful and almost whimsical, like the primary colors below. Some are elegant, like the shell and metal ones pictured here. But they're all fun to make and fun to wear!

I'm always looking for garage sales, flea markets, thrift shops, etc. Since I use 25-30 buttons per bracelet, they go fast! I sort my buttons by color and keep them in a little portable cabinet with many drawers. This helps keep me organized.

Button Bracelet Madness!!!

Everybody loves button bracelets, or so it seems. A fun craft begun with my granddaughter, Hannah, several years ago, has become on of our gallery's hottest items. It seems every time I turn around I am needing to fill the bracelet tree. So this weekend while I'm manning the shop I'm making button bracelets.

Friday, June 25, 2010


These are SO MUCH FUN!!! My thanks to Amy, who taught me to make these driftwood dolls several years ago.
These guys will sit up, but they also have hanging hooks in their backs. This totally flexible little family makes me smile!

I made this little guy; his name is Huckle. He's about a foot tall and has sticks for arms and legs, and a thick piece of bark for his body. His hair is green moss and he even has a twiggy nose. I love him!
We made lemonade (driftwood dolls) out of lemons (the flooding Mississippi knocking at our doorsteps this week).
From left: Glenette, Susan, Jennifer (our super hostess), and Erin.

Erin creating a tall slender good-looking guy!

Glenette, Susan, and Amanda...creativity at its best!

Hello World!

OK, I'm inspired. It only took 11 years, as blogs have been going on since 1999. takes me awhile to get going.

I love life. I love people with all their idiosyncrasies. I love nature. I love to make stuff. I love free supplies. Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to making my driftwood dolls, which I call The Drifters.

This week I got some friends together and we each created one of these fellows with driftwood from the Mississippi River, which we could watch from our classroom. The Mighty Mississippi flows beside Clarksville's main street, and (most of the time) we get along just fine. At the moment, the river is out of its banks, but we are cautiously optimistic that it will not be another Flood of 2008, which brought volunteers and media from all over the country and even the world to our doorstep.

Back to The Drifters. We gathered driftwood from the river, let it dry, then chose from among the 'body parts' a head, a body, a neck, and arms and legs. Using mostly wire and a bit of glue, we assembled them, added embellishments such as moss hair and 'beady' eyes, and...voila...little driftwood people. Everybody had a great time and the whole class took a bit under 2 hours. (Of course, we did our share of talking and laughing; otherwise the class would have been even faster!)