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Basketweaving with an Unusual Twist

SOVAST #6

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour

Toni Best weaves a backdrop for one of her wood sculptures.

Sunday  my husband and I toured visited artists in Visalia, CA Region One of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour. At the home of another acquaintance of mine, Toni Best, we had no idea gourds could look so fabulous. Her front door was open so we walked in. Her voice led us to her living room display studio where she wove a backdrop for one of her gourd projects.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour

Gourd and basket weaving combined

Unlike any other baskets I have seen, Toni’s have gaps and dips.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour

Each gourd inspires a different shaped basket

After we looked around her living and dining room she stopped working and led us to her studio – the garage. She starts by cleaning and staining her gourds, which she purchases in bulk.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour

Pick a gourd, any gourd.

She wears a mask to protect herself from mold as she cuts a hole in the top of the gourd and grinds out the inside.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour

Toni demonstrates the process of preparing her gourds.

Then she stains them. This table is set up for a class she will teach in June. She does the gourd preparation for her students because it is so time-consuming.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour

Toni’s class is ready to go.

Now I understand the difference between the eye of an artist, and ordinary eyes like mine. In a million years my eyes would not have projected the beauty Toni creates from these raw materials.

Toni holds exhibitions all over the country including, St. Paul Minnesota, and at Harvard in Massachusetts. She has been invited to teach at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN this summer. If you do not want to travel to Tennessee, Toni holds classes in her Visalia studio every other month.

Here are additional pictures from her studio.

 

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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