Connie Moolenaar’s craft — creating her own woven longleaf pine needle baskets — dates back to prehistoric Indiana.
“I love the historical aspect of Indiana and its rich history of making products from items produced by the land,” says the longtime Longaberger Basket collector.
Connie uses some of the same methods and materials as the American Indians and early settlers, and she localizes her work by using longleaf pine needles from trees in her backyard. She embellishes with black walnut and cedar slices.
“The black walnut slices are from native black walnut trees,” she says. “Many people tell stories from earlier days of removing hulls and picking nutmeats as a family activity, or how the squirrels helped remove the nuts.”
Connie’s cedar slices are made from pruning the trees in her Owen County yard — slicing, sanding and drilling holes in these products from the land that make distinctive Indiana treasures.
“I sometimes use gemstones, different types of nuts, petrified wood, and short needle pines to create various sized baskets, wall hangings and other work,” she adds.
Connie’s technique is called “coiling,” and it incorporates the pine needles and nut/wood slices woven and stitched to make both functional and decorative work. She gathers pine needles from the ground, bundles, then stores them. She boils them in hot water for 30 minutes before using them to make baskets.
“I stitch the damp needles with artificial sinew, coiling the needles in a circular manner,” she says. “After it dries for a day or two, I put a protective seal on, so it will be sturdy and last for generations. Some pieces may be similar, but no two pieces are alike.
“The rich Indiana heritage of basket making by pioneers and American Indians is brought to life through these pieces,” she adds.
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