Sweetgrass Weavers

One of the oldest West African art forms in America is thriving and has become profitable business for the locals of in the Charleston area of South Carolina. Baskets coiled from native sweat grass, pine needles and sewn with palmetto leaves keep the locals busy and the tourist happy. They are highly sought after and command a price that shows that these traditional baskets are highly respected by collectors.Sweetgrass
Not being a basket weaver didn't stop me from my quest to learn as much as possible about the weaving technique. The first step was to learn how to identify and gather the local materials. And, believe me, that was not easy. It took me about three days of constantly searching the waters edge and the palm line streets. Our sailing departure date had been delayed for repairs to our boat, so I took advantage of this free time by visiting a near by sweet grass stall owned by Mary. Each day I showed up, excited and proudly presented my newly discovered native materials. Before I got within hearing distance of roadside stall, I could see Mary's head shaking from side to side indicating that I still had not been sucessful.
From my personal interaction with Mary, I realized that this skill, that has been handed down through families since th 1700's, was something that I was not going to learn in three days. At this point, I was happy to know that my quest for learning new techniques would lead me to many more adventures and days of learning about people and their culture. Eventually, I did discover the palmettto leaf used for sewing of the baskets. After several months of sailing in the Bahamas the native women in the Exumas showed me how to use the same leaf to create their woven mats, hats, and bags. To see harvesting of the leaf, click on LEARNING FROM THE EXPERTS, BAHAMIAN WEAVERS.