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Tina Puckett Basket Weaver

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Tina Puckett, Connecticut, USA

After weaving for a few years making traditional baskets I started getting bored and that when I started experimenting with vines. That process changed my baskets to One of a Kinds.

Zoneone Arts is delighted to bring Tina Puckett to you…

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You call your work ‘Woven Art’ can you expand on this choice of words?

 My mother gave me a gift of a class on weaving an Egg Basket in the fall of 1982. I had decided that I would weave basket for Christmas gifts that year. I had woven about 5 baskets when my parents stop by with a friend before Christmas. She spotted the baskets and I told her that I wove them. She asked if she could purchase them and I said Yes! I wove some more baskets and brought them to a handmade gift store and they purchased and order. So, I named my new business Tina’s Baskets!

After weaving for a few years’ traditional baskets I started getting bored and that when I started experimenting with vines. That process changed my baskets to One of a Kinds. The bittersweet vine became my favorite because it gave me these incredible visions of what it wanted me to create. And from these visions came wall hanger, sculptures and furniture. The bittersweet created the frame work and structure of the piece and I wove in between. Tina’s Baskets no longer described all that I was creating and being in business for several years it was hard to let “Tina’s Baskets” go.  So, I asked myself what words describes my work and that’s how “Woven Art” came about. Tina’s Baskets and Woven Art!

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Purple flowers

At 90 your grandmother said to you, “You are about to begin the most important years of your life, so do what you are meant to do”.  What have you done since this conversati?on

My grandmother’s words of wisdom, “You are about to begin the most important years of your life, so do what you are meant to do.”  That conversation took place 15 years ago…I was living in Litchfield, CT at that time so I rented a suite on the second floor of a building that was part of the Main Street shopping.  I divided the room into a show room and a work area. After three years there I wanted to even expand the business more and to do so I knew that I would have to go on the road and do Arts and Craft Show all across the US. I gave up the suite in Litchfield and moved to Winsted, CT to a house with a barn and I turned the barn into a work shop and went on the road. Being on the road was like being gypsy 4 to 6 weeks on the road and I was in a different city every week. End up coming home for about 4 weeks and create new work and full filled commissions.  After living that style of life for ten years it was once again a time to change.  I stayed in Winsted but moved across town to an old Mill that has one building that was renovated to apartments and another building that was renovated into Studios. This makes it very convenient to live and work.“

Indian blanket

Indian Blanket

Expand on what you call, the humble egg basket?

The humble Egg Basket is made quite differently from any other baskets. This basket can be made of a variety of materials; many of the materials can be wild and indigenous.  It starts out with two round hoops. The top of one of the hoops will be the handle and it is sometimes decorated with a patterned weave. The two hoops are held together by weaving an Eye of God which appears on some Appalachian (USA) splint baskets but is not seen on European ones.  The Eye of God holds the ribs which are the frame work and determines the shape of the basket. Then in a traditional weave it is woven under and over the ribs.

Why the word “humble”

You ask why I say “humble” Egg Basket. Well, it was originally woven by workers and by gypsies. It was excellently made, a pleasure to look at and it was essentially a working basket for agriculture or fishing. And professional basket makers rarely wove them.

How do you incorporate ‘doodling’ into your art practice? 

I never draw out what I am going to weave because I get visions from the Bittersweet and able to manifest the woven art piece from the vision. I have always “doodled” when the opportunity was available. I have two favorite doodling, one is flowers and the other is non-conforming lines that create spaces and would alternate filling in the spaces. One day I was talking on the phone and was doodling a flower and then I was wondering if I could weave one. That was the birth of the Woven Flowers. The other doodling is the wall hangers Waves and Whimsical.

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 You studied Set Design how has this influenced your art in particular size?

Studying Set Design has influenced my woven art work in so many ways. I learned how to create from my imagination.  I was taught how to understand the importance of color and how to mix colors to create a different color. Also, I learned carpentry. When we did set design we always had to create the set to a size were the audience from the first row to the last row could see it clearly. I follow this same practice with my woven art. For example: when I get a commission for a piece to go over the fireplace mantle, I take in to consideration the space of the wall from mantle to the ceiling, how large is the room, where is the setting area in proportion to the fireplace and were the entrances are to the room. These criteria determine the size and weave of the Woven Art piece.

You catalogue your work into 4 sections.

Baskets, bowls, Sculpture, and Wallhangings explain about the categories and also when they overlap. 

I have categorized my woven art into Baskets, Bowls, Sculpture, Wallhanger, Flowers, Landscapes and Furniture. When you go on my website you will notice that I have categorized my woven art into Baskets, Bowls, Sculpture, Wallhanger, Flowers, Landscapes and Furniture. I have been weaving since 1982 and started with baskets. The more I wove the more shapes and functions came from my weaving and to make it easier for my clients to find what they are looking for to categorize my work. The names I choose for the categories are self-explanatory. Can the categories overlap?  Yes, I think so.

Bluebonnet

Bluebonnet

Discuss ‘Whatz Up’ and where the basket and art piece overlap. 

I created a basket named “Whatz Up”. The definition of a basket is a container used to hold or carry things. She can definitely hold thing and has a handle. She is also an Art piece because she sits on her side which is non-conforming to a basket. Also, there are very beautiful pieces of Bittersweet vines that are placed throughout the basket that gives it a sculptural look.

Neast 5

Neasts 5

Discuss the use of the bright colour in this piece and your work with bright colours.  

There are two bowls, Paneled Bowl and Beating Heart that are a perfect example how I like to combine colors. Paneled Bowl has rich earth tones such as wine, orange, yellow and brown. Beating Heart has brilliant yellow, red, pink and purple. I always look upon our planet to see the different colors nature has put together. The earth tones actually come from our foliage in New England, USA. The brilliant colors come from the beautiful flowers, nature combines such pretty colors in flowers. These two bowls are woven on the inside and the outside. I weave with reeds and there is a good side and a ruff side of the reeds. So, usually the good side goes on the outside of the basket or bowl and the ruff side on the inside. By creating a double wall the bowl has a good side on the inside and the outside.\

Revised Fiesta

Revisited Fiesta

Discuss the use of colours and the variation in the material choices in your work.

Two Walls is under freestanding sculptures. This piece is actually made with one branch from Harry Lauders Walking Stick. It allowed me to weave two separate walls with a thinner branch delicately twisting and turning in between the two walls. I choose earth tone colors of rust and dark blue and accented it with yellow wooden beads. I love how it is supported by the branch giving it empty space on the bottom.

Forever Changing Free standing Sculpture

 Forever Changing

Compare ‘Wallhanging 4’and Wallhanging 2’ highlighting the size, materials and the different number of piece in each Wallhanging.

In the category of Wallhanger there are subcategories: Pocket, Whimsical, Circle and Curves and Waves.  The Pocket Wallhanger is actually functional in that it can hold stuff and they are woven indifferent sizes and patters.  Whimsical comes from my “doodling” and if you look at them there is no begging or end in the panel that is woven like ying and yang. In my collection of Bittersweet vines there are some pieces that have grown around themselves in some what a straight branch and I wanted to accent this piece of bittersweet and yet mimic the twist. That was the creation of the Circles and Curves. Waves also comes from my “doodling”. Bittersweet vines are creating the frame work and allow me to weave panels in between the vines.  I love this technique because there is so much motion when you look at piece.

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If this was not enough you also use your techniques to make furniture.  Discuss, Simplicity (Coffee Table) and how you have had to adapt your techniques to make large piece.

Flowers and Landscapes were originally woven in a traditional weave. When I studied set design I also learned how your eyes preserve what you are seeing. So I took a closer look at the flowers and landscapes and realized that they are not a solid color but slight variations of the color. That is how my own technique of weaving was created and I named it “dimensional weave”.

One day in the woods forging Bittersweet vines I came across some really thick and interesting pieces. The vision I got was that it wanted to be a coffee table. With the knowledge of carpentry from set design I knew that I could create a coffee table. My favorite coffee table is The Four-Level Coffee Table which can be found on my website. The piece of Bittersweet vine that is sticking straight up from the center of the table was the piece that gave me the vision and it told me it wanted to be the center of the attention. From the coffee table I went on to making End Tables and Tiki Bars. 

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You open your studio every weekend.  Why do you do this and how has it helped you to develop and expand your art?

I consider myself a professional Artist. I absolutely love weaving and am willing to do it all of the time.     I am prepared and have been for many years to commit my time, energy and money to make a living from my woven art. I have developed a unique style and constantly developing new body of work. I am also willing to promote my work every chance I get. With that said you can understand why I choose to live and have my studio in the same location and have set hours on the weekends and by appointment or chance in the weekdays. At this time my studio is the best I have ever had. It has a beautiful show room and work area all in one.

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Jumping

Contacts:

Tina Puckett

Tina@TinasBaskets.com

Tina Puckett, Conneticut, USA

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, January, 2017

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