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Posts Tagged ‘Seagrass’

Bayou basket-making class weaves memories

In Bayou La Batre on August 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Laney Basket 6

By Laney Payne

Laney Basket 4With an eloquent southern draw, soft pink attire, and hands eager to help, Dorothy “Dot” Dowling, or “Mimi” to those who know her best, is far from a basket case.

However, on a July Friday, a group of women and young girls in Bayou La Batre gathered to learn the art of basket weaving from one of the craft’s finest.Laney Basket 3 With over 30 years of experience with basket weaving under her belt, Dowling loves teaching others an art form that is fading fast from today’s generation.

“Oh, I love it. I guess you could say I’m obsessed. When I’m weaving, I’m in hog heaven,” said Dowling.

And Dowling shared her little piece of heaven with the bayou through a lesson filled with “over and unders”, spokes, weavers and raw pleasure. Using all-natural reeds, sea grass, and time-tested methods, Dowling and her students got busy creating a piece of art as unique as the individuals doing the weaving.

“Glue, that’s what I call the “g” word. These are all natural, and each one is different. You couldn’t make two the same if you tried. I love that about it,” said Dowling.

While creating their first baskets, Mrs. Dot’s students quickly picked up the trade and were thrilled watching their baskets take form and come to life.

But baskets weren’t the only thing being woven together. Sitting on the edges of cafeteria tables in a small fellowship hall on a Friday morning, the women in Dowling’s class took time to invest in each other and weave relationships.

Laney Basket 1Ranging from young brunette JROTC members, sisters, grand-daughters, retired bus drivers with shiny pink nails, and even a boy in the mix, the students of Mrs. Dot’s class shared stories and laughs in between the “in and out’s” of weaving.

“I’ve seen people do it, but I never thought much about it,” said student Diane Collier.

Another student, Brianna John, said, “I’ve woven, but not like this!”

As the group put their finishing touches on their work, and Dowling made her final rounds answering each “Mimi, what’s next?” smiles and prideful looks were seen around the table.

As Dowling packed her bag with reeds and tools, she looked at me and said, “Laney, I hope they enjoyed that as much as I did.”

What Dowling doesn’t realize is the lasting impact her investment made here and the lasting impact she continues to make on me as her grateful granddaughter.