The Joys of Kudzu


Nancy Basket showed some of her work and discussed her experience as a basketmaker at the Anderson Artists Guild meeting on March 9.

Born in Washington state, she has lived in Walhalla for 21 years, having come to the South to learn its stories and to use its natural resources—especially kudzu—in her craft. “I make whatever is in my backyard or available locally,” she said.

She has made many things from kudzu—not just baskets. One creation was five-foot lampshades that mimicked the work of male African weaver birds, which create intricate nests to attract mates. She also makes cloth and paper.

She uses the kudzu that grows in trees—“not the green stuff on the ground”—and is drawn to unusual shapes, sometimes dyed indigo.

She also recommends eating the little leaves of kudzu as a source of protein. It can also be used to make wine and can be a good spot for bees to make grape-flavored honey, she said.

A Native American, Basket feels a deep affinity with her elders—she took her name from her ancestor Margaret Basket, a Cherokee basketmaker in Virginia in the mid-1800s—and seeks to pass down her skills to young people. “It’s my turn to share,” she said.

For more information about Basket, visit http://nancybasket.com/.

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