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Basket Task

In our age of mass production, Joe Peters and Midge Gum are doing their part to keep alive the ancient art of basket making.

Way back in 1924, a German immigrant taught Peters the technique, which involves the patient weaving of supple strands of split wood into decorative – and practical – shapes. A few decades later, when he had some time off from farming, Peters picked up the craft again.

Spurred by memories of the baskets her American Indian grandmother used to make, Gum asked Peters to share his knowledge with her. The two now work together, helping each other perfect their art while preserving a skill almost as old as civilization itself.

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Watch Joe Peters and Midge Gum at work making baskets in the southern Illinois town of Carlyle.


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Basketmaker Joe Peters

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Midge Gum splits a reed for a basket.

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Master basketmaker, Joe Peters and apprentice (and star pupil,) Midge Gum.


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