Related Objects
Current Location:
Daniel and Pamella DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health -> 5th Floor (DCIH)
Location Notes:
DCIH; 5th Floor; Across from Room 572


Paula Thorne
GVSU Collection
Woven Ash and Sweetgrass
Artworks - Height: 4.5 in Width: 3.5 in Depth: 3.5 in
A woven basket is the shape of a plum with a deep purple body and grey stem (cover).
Historical Context:
Master basket maker Paula Thorne continues the tradition of her native peoples of the Penobscot tribe, while also incorporating contemporary dying techniques. Thorne uses traditional collecting and preparing methods of her tribe by foraging her materials in the Northeastern Woodlands region. Her baskets are made from woven brown ash, a tree also known as the ‘basket tree,’ as it provides the best natural material for making splints, the pliable strips of wood used for weaving baskets. Sweetgrass is a fragrant, salt marsh grass, that is also collected, cleaned and soaked in water to make it soft and pliable to weave. Once her materials are prepared, Thorne uses a process called djikajidj, a term for the twisted decorative appendages on the exterior of the baskets. Traditionally dyes were created from berries, tree bark, roots and other natural materials. Thorne implements contemporary dying techniques to execute the colors to is known for. Regarding her work Thorne states, “Basketmaking for me is about innovation and creativity within the context of a traditional art form. The functionality, the materials, and the shapes have been a legacy for each generation. I honor that legacy and believe I have a responsibility to continue it, basing it always on our traditions and knowledge of literally thousands of years. Basketmaking is an art that I believe I was born to do, much as my ancestors have done for thousands of years."