Crafting was part of life for Deb Mather, who grew up on a farm in northern Illinois, so when her sister invited her to join her at a basket class in 1992, she said yes. After work Deb drove to Morrison, Illinois, a one and a half hour drive away, and made a Primitive style Double Jar Basket. Deb was still pretty excited after the hour drive home – she couldn’t wait to show her husband what she had made. Fred says that one look at her face and he knew he was in trouble!
Well, that was the beginning, basket weaving soon became a part of Deb’s life. For the next two and a half years Deb drove to Morrison to take many basket classes. Her house started to fill with baskets and basket supplies and she started teaching some coworkers how to make baskets.
In January 1996, they moved to Owatonna, Minnesota. Deb was very concerned that she was going to lose her basket connections and friends – but much to her delight she found that Pat Raetz was teaching basket weaving classes at the Owatonna Art Center and there were others teaching classes through Community Education. From Pat, Deb quickly learned about a basket weaving event in Faribault, MN and one in Winona MN, being organized by Margaret Grund.
And so Deb had found her place in the Minnesota basket community. She and Pat Raetz drove to Winona (a mere hour and a half drive!) to take classes from Margaret Grund. Deb established a business, Ferggies Basket Case, started selling baskets and she began teaching her co-workers – in her heated garage. After two years of setting up and tearing down, moving cars in and out, Fred suggested a new house – one with room for a studio. (Deb, he’s a keeper!) Now, Deb has 750 square feet of studio where she can create and gather with weaving friends and she teaches through area Community Education Programs.
Like many of us, Deb’s home is full of baskets, she weaves all styles of basketry but most of her work is functional. She sells a lot of her work at Art and Craft Shows (about four a year) and is always working on new ideas for classes she teaches. I probably should mention that Deb is also a quilter – another art form at which she excels and another good reason for that ‘bigger house’.
Deb has no plans to quit weaving or teaching. While the concept of ‘making it yourself’ and keeping the art of basketry alive is important, she has found it is very often more than weaving a basket- it’s about the community. Relaxing with friends, working with your hands and sharing your life, basket weaving becomes therapeutic and very personal. Weavers become your friends.
In addition to teaching basketry and selling baskets, Deb also organizes two events. Cabin Fever Weavin’ is held in January in Owatonna, MN. Deb started this regional event in January, 2000. Cabin Fever is limited to 25 people and features two teachers. This year, Marlys Sowers and Marilyn Wald will be there. You can get more information or to learn how to get on the mailing list here (http://www.weavinwinona.com/files/2017_CabinFeverWeavin_2_.pdf)
The other event that Deb organizes is Weavin’ in Winona. Deb learned about Weavin’ in Winona shortly after moving to Minnesota. She and Fred are avid boaters so when she learned about an event in Winona, right on the Mississippi river, it seemed too good to be true. Deb began attending and got to know Margaret Grund, the event organizer.
Margaret organized the first event, Weavin’ and Quiltin’ in 1994 because she wanted to introduce her students to other teachers. The first year she taught along with Theresa Ohno, Joan Moore. Vicki Teich, Grace Kabel, Joyce Gardner, Bernie Kopel and Mark Katz – that’s quite a line up for a first year! Over the next years Polly Adams Sutton, Flo Hoppe, Joanna Schanz, Patti Hawkins, Dianne Stanton and others would come to teach. The event was well attended and Margaret was doing what she loved, but she started thinking that she needed to build a website and move the event into the digital age – that was not what she loved. So in 2001, she called Deb and asked if she was interested in taking over the event. The first year they worked together to insure a smooth transition.
Today, you will still see Margaret in attendance, helping out where she is needed, and often selling her beautiful quilts. Deb has done a great job of continuing this great event. Over the years, she developed a website and each year she works on this event throughout the year – reading evaluations and suggestions, getting in touch with teachers, determining what will be taught, coordinating with the University and purchasing supplies so that she can provide a store for students to purchase supplies. Then, in June, she relies on her friends, the Wacky Weavers from Owatonna and other volunteers to help provide a well-run event. And they do a good job!
Weavin’ in Winona is a wonderful event. The event takes place every June- the weekend after Father’s Day – at Winona State University in a beautiful round room at the Tau Center and campus housing is available for attendees. Winona is a beautiful community right on the Mississippi River along the bluffs – a great summer weekend destination. From great classes to great surroundings – this is an event you should check out! Information about the 2017 event should be up the end of January – you can check it out here (http://www.weavinwinona.com/index.html) and be sure to get on the mailing list – email Deb at email@example.com – so you don’t miss out!
Deb, thanks for letting me share a little bit about you and the events you organize. It was so nice to have a conversation with you!!
thanks for reading the Basket Teacher