This is my third post featuring my dear friend, Margaret Matson, whom I’ve know since her early twenties. With luck you will see more of her work. One day I’d like to post a retrospective of all the different art and crafts that Margaret has created, and there are sooooo many. Her ink painting on fabrics, her embroidery, her construction of wooden shrines, her transformation of rooms by painting the fireplace and walls, and on and on…… We are blessed that Margaret photographs the progress of her art and is willing to share her techniques with us.
One of those early postings showcased Margaret’s paper dresses. To spark your memory, this is a picture of three of her paper dresses which were featured recently in a gallery in Solvang, California.
Margaret is an artist, painter, sculptor, and designer with a gift for embellishing architectural spaces. Her original painted detail is designed to reflect each individual client in a uniquely enhanced space. Margaret is a graduate of the University of Oregon, BFA in Fine Arts. She has taught in the Department of Architecture and Fine Arts at the University of Oregon, Eugene, as well as Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, Colorado. Margaret has designed for theater in the US and Canada, and as a Fulbright Scholar, a theater production in India. She has done major public art pieces, collaborations installed in Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, BC. One of her clients said, “She is a creator and alchemist, so there is magic in what comes out of Margaret.”
MARGARET’S INTRODUCTION TO HER MARKET BASKETS
For years I carried a beautiful woven grass basket from Ghana, handmade by village artisans using their local wild grasses and goat leather. They are so very beautiful. I used mine for everything imaginable, having first purchased my African basket to carry the ashes of a lovely African American musician to his preferred Montreal and Eastern Canada. After a quiet time on a high shelf, it re-entered useful companionship for groceries, overnight stays, airplane carry-on…potluck dinners…until one day it began to break down along the bottom curve and I could see that it would soon be too fragile for its many tasks. I could not bear to dispose of this beauty with the lovely pantina’d leather handles. I remembered, in the depths of my memory, reading that in Japan the old baskets were mended….maybe with mulberry paper and something??? I decided to try to mend my basket with paper and glue…papier mache′! The initial repairs seemed a little unsightly and as I could feel the strength of the repair I decided to cover the entire basket. Inside and out, two layers each, and it was as strong as a box, and still had the beautiful comfortable handles. With embellishment and color, this is the rust polka dot basket, and it became an instant conversation piece, admired, and hugely appreciated by every grocer as it did not collapse in on itself as it was filled. I have used it every day since…and in travel, it is such a pleasure to have it to use at one’s destination! Thus began several years now of making the odd basket for an adventurous appreciator, and I am finishing #12 as of this writing. I love the use of the handmade papers from Nepal, tearing shapes to suggest flowers and leaves…arranging the patterns and colors, and using fine brushes to add opacity and detail. I finish the interiors with darker papers to mask the smudges of heavy use, and add a detail at the upper edge just for visual interest for the user.
This peach basket demonstrating process was made for an installation at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. It was a detail in the installation that needed to feel ‘old and French’ so I chose this particular flared shape, cut off the handles, and with fine assistance replaced them with a single bent oak handle, and filled the finished basket with peonies and papier mache′ baguettes! One interesting detail was using some vintage doilies, papering over the background and creating this lace feel. You can see this doily detail again in the Grasshopper basket, which also uses some of my own hand carved stamp images, the grasshoppers and the roses which I printed on paper and then cut out and applied to the basket. I would like to do more of that.
MORE MARKET BASKETS
I find Margaret’s baskets breathtaking. I always feel an excitement when Margaret can fit me into her busy schedule and provide me with pictures of her latest magic. I hope you enjoyed it.
You can reach Margaret directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
See more of her work on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melizmatson
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