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1985 awardee, Hubbard Lake (Alpena County), black ash basketmaker
Born February 14, 1918 in Mikado, the Ojibwa Indian settlement located in a rural area near Oscoda, Edith Bondie's life has always been closely connected to the woods. Her father drove logs down the AuSable River, and her mother was a lumberjack cook who often worked out of a shanty kitchen on a river raft. Edith was raised in Mikado where she learned traditional black ash splint basketmaking techniques from her parents and others. "My mom made baskets and she'd throw us kids the scraps. We'd pick them up and play with them and started making baskets on our own. And I've been making them all my life." (1)
For many years Edith and her husband, Ward, worked together on baskets. Ward felled the right black ash trees on their property best suited for baskets, and the two of them took turns pounding the logs and separating the splints. Edith's baskets are known for their thin, smooth, and narrow splints. Aside from the time it takes to gather and prepare the materials, Edith said it took her "up to six weeks, working eight to ten hours a day, to finish one basket." (2)
Although she is adept at making many kinds of utility and decorative baskets, Edith is best known for one basket. She calls it a "porcupine basket" or a "blowfish basket." As she describes it, "You know that ocean fish that blows itself up a lot--the blow fish? It looks like a big balloon with lots of needles all over it. Well, that's what the baskets are supposed to look like." (3)
Edith's work has been featured in many exhibits, including ones at the Jesse Besser Museum, MSU Museum, and, in 1979, as part of the exhibit titled "Craft Multiples" at the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery. Edith has very generously shared her skills with many others and has been a featured teacher ands demonstrator at county fairs, 4-H clubs, Jesse Besser Museum, and MSU Museum.
(1) Bondie, Edith. Cited in Alan R. Kamuda, Hands Across Michigan: Tradition Bearers. Detroit, Michigan: Detroit Free Press. 1993:48.
(2) Bondie, Edith. Cited in Alan R. Kamuda, Hands Across Michigan: Tradition Bearers. Detroit, Michigan: Detroit Free Press. 1993:48.
(3) Bondie, Edith. Cited in Alan R. Kamuda, Hands Across Michigan: Tradition Bearers. Detroit, Michigan: Detroit Free Press. 1993:48.
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