Home Mammoth Cave Basket Makers


Basket Making in south central Kentucky

Basket making has been an important part of the material culture of the greater Hart County area since at least the middle of the 1800s, if not even earlier. Basketry in all parts of the world is a reflection of both the cultures and the environments in which they are produced. In central Kentucky baskets have always been made from the natural materials that are immediately available in the local area. Those materials most suitable for making baskets in this part of Kentucky are the thin, hand rived splits of the white oak tree as well as some other native vines and shoots, such as honeysuckle and willow. White oak splits were, and still are, the most commonly used material in the area, though some basket makers use vines and other native materials.

Early basket forms and the techniques used in constructing them were influenced by the basket making traditions that settlers brought with them from other locations. Through time, however, the baskets of this area would acquire many characteristics that would make them unique from similar baskets made in other parts of the country.

Basket making in this area has also played an important role in the economy of many local families. The economic functions of basket making have undergone some interesting changes through the course of the area's history. For more information on this aspect of basket making see the interpretive display located in the center of this web site.

This web site celebrates this important local tradition that is still thriving along the 31W corridor. Step inside, observe and enjoy.

Text by Tony N. VanWinkle, Folklife Fieldworker 2001