My name is Judy Arledge, and I have been creating pine needle baskets since 1980. My work has been accepted for museum shows in a number of major American cities—one piece was selected for a journey to Latvia, representing "Artists for Peace." My signature basket “Spirit Bear” was chosen to be part of a collection of special pieces of Montana art to represent Missoula in our New Zealand sister city, Palmerston-North. Several galleries have shown my work and I have been featured in Sundance Catalog. As an educator, I have presented programs for schools to share the important history and tradition of basketry for all nations and people. My studio provides an intimate arena for the gathering of students who come to learn coiling, one of the ancient methods of basket making. It has been an honor to share my passion for basketry as an instructor for participants in Family Summit events with the National Wildlife Federation at various locations internationally.
My home is in Missoula, Montana, the heart of Ponderosa Pine Country. Our state tree is the Mighty Ponderosa, and it is from our native forests that I harvest my weaving materials. The designs on the boards are the original work of artist Donna Walsh of Washington State. The needles used in each coiled design are gathered from the forest floor, and the final attention to detail is a distinctive pine crate for each completed basket.
I treasure the valued instruction of contemporary weaver and author Jeannie McFarland, who introduced me to basketry. Further inspiration evolved as I explored the world of reed and antler weaving with the expert vessel designer and author Bobi Harris. My studies deepened as I entered the world of Nancy Basket in South Carolina, whose Cherokee background introduced me to the more traditional, ancient methods of weaving. Her gift of storytelling touches the soul as she blends today with long ago. In Alaska my inspiration was Delores Churchill. What a privilege to enter the quiet forest with this teacher to learn the old ways of gathering root and bark for creating baskets. The further preparation of these materials involved many hours over a smoky fire, and with rainwater. As we worked, Delores would share her memories of growing up with the Haida people, however she was never distracted from her mission of insisting that I put forth my best effort. "Judy, take it undone and do it again." Her high standards were then tempered by this wisdom from the old ways: "It is not for you to praise your own work--it is for others to do so or you will lose your gift."
So with a respect for the ancient craft of coiling, and a spirit of gratitude for the blessing of our beautiful forests, it is my prayer that the language of my work will be understood as I allow it to speak for itself.
Be Blessed –
In Ponderosa Country -