JDCC students learn basketryPublished 4:27pm Thursday, November 21, 2013
Students at Jefferson Davis Community College’s Atmore campus celebrated Native American Heritage Month by learning more about Creek basketry Thursday morning.
Margaret Baggett, traditional arts demonstrator for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, brought a display of baskets and discussed how they were made before demonstrating the intricate practice.
The event was sponsored by the school’s diversity council, said Cornelia Miller, member and JDCC adult education director.
“We try to do different activities to celebrate different ethnic groups,” said Miller, who is also Baggett’s sister.
Baggett brought a variety of baskets and other items made from reeds. She said the baskets are traditionally made from river cane, but the river cane planted by PCI in 2009 is not mature enough to be made into baskets yet.
She demonstrated making a basket Thursday by starting with the bottom, by interweaving reeds together into what is called a “spider.” She had a large bucket of water beside her as she worked.
“You have to keep them wet to make them pliable and easy to work with,” she said of the reeds.
Baggett said she learned the art in 2009 and now shares it with others through classes. She holds classes for tribal members, students and others.
“She goes to the Boys and Girls Club, holds classes for seniors and has even done classes at different departments in the tribe,” Miller said. “She goes anywhere she’s asked.”
Baggett said she did a class for the fourth-graders at Escambia Academy last year.
“Normally for kids, I do the spider – you know, the bottom – and then they do the sides because the bottom is the hardest part of this basket,” she said. “This is not a really hard basket.”
Miller, who also weaves baskets with Baggett and a brother, said some of the more intricate baskets can take up to 20 hours of work.
“Once you make one you will appreciate artists,” Miller said.
Baggett and Miller visited JDCC’s main campus in Brewton on Wednesday.