Pine Needle Basketry
Barbara Covil West
History of Pine
believed that pine needle basketry probably existed for as long as pine trees
and humans have shared the earth. It has documented that among the first to
make basket using the pine needles were the Seminole Indians, living in the area
of what is known today as the Florida Everglades, they made the most of the
local grasses, vines, roots, fibrous leaves, strips of barks and pine needles.
natural materials together, they made baskets that they put to many uses. Some baskets
were treated with pine resin, and used for carrying water. Others, utilizing
hot stones for heat, and used for cooking. Others vessels were used for feed
containers and storage.
Civil war and Pine
civil war, materials for basket were scarce, and Mary Jane McAfee from Georgia
was in dying need of materials for hats and baskets. She tried to make hats
from bulrush but found out that the hats proved to be heavy and was not
comfortable to wear. While still searching for some native product for which to
make the hats light enough to be worn with ease, she happened to see a limb of
a long leaf pine in a wagon load of pine straw in which the farm help were
coving the potato beds. Mrs. McAfee conceived the idea that these long slender
needles might be so treated as to render them sufficiently tough to be woven
into hats while retaining their pliability. She succeeded after some experimentation
in accomplishing this.
spool of Coats thread was used to make the hat and for all others “Home spun
cotton thread “was employed. The pine needle hat of which he father loved to
talk about was the first product of her new found art. Mary Jane McAfee was hugely
an instrumental in the growth and the spreading of the art of Pine needle
basketry. She went on to teach classes in the colleges in Tenn.
basket making, is part of our heritage that utilizes our countries natural
resources, becomes a legacy for future generations, as the craft is passed on.