Spruce Root Berry Baskets

I once took an introductory workshop with Sitka artist Teri Rofkar on spruce root basket weaving. Tlingit basket weaving has persisted for over 6,000 years and many of these basket types were traditionally put to use while berry gathering. Many of the beautiful baskets that Teri brought to showcase were well stained with berry juice.

On her website, Teri says that “harvesting the raw materials to create the basketry is more labor intensive than weaving and in the case of large baskets can take years to collect before the weaving can begin.”

I do not doubt that for a second. Once the long surface roots are collected, roasted and whipped through a forked stick to remove the outer bark, they must be split multiple times and sorted for curvature. I tried my hand at this and decided it was not my calling. I could barely get a root evenly split in half. A skilled weaver can split a root into quarters, and then split those quarters in half!

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