The League of NH Craftsmen’s annual ornament for 2013 is “Woven In Winter”, a miniature, woven black ask basket with a white oak handle and rim made by Alice Ogden of Salisbury. The ornament is embellished with a shimmery, sage-colored ribbon on the front, and has a golden thread for hanging on a tree or wreath. Its open weave allows the decorative lights of a Christmas tree to shine through it.
Woven In Winter ornaments are sold exclusively by the League of NH Craftsmen Meredith Retail Gallery, located at 279 Daniel Webster Highway (next to the Inn at Church Landing), and other League retail galleries. Each ornament is numbered as one of a limited edition. The ornament comes gift-boxed.
A juried member of the League since 1980, Alice Ogden has been making baskets of all sizes for more than 30 years. “Every year, for the past 16 years, I create a collection of basket ornaments, called From My Tree To Yours,” said Alice. “I am excited to have created this one for the League’s annual ornament program.”
Alice is known for her signature, hand-whittled oak rims and handles, and harvests all the natural materials with the help of her husband, Brad, who is a logger.
“I do not use store-bought materials. My husband and I go out in the woods to find the trees (primarily black ash and white oak) and he cuts them down. Then I peel off the splints and use them to make my baskets,” said Alice. “I like the control that I have when I make baskets using materials I’ve collected and prepared myself. It’s very spiritual: You take something as rough as a tree and make something beautiful and functional.”
As a young girl, Alice would watch her mother cane chairs for antique dealers and museums. “In a way, it came naturally to me to make baskets,” said Alice. “When I turned 18, I was fortunate to be able to buy a one-room schoolhouse, and that became my basket-making studio.” She then joined the League, and shortly thereafter, received a scholarship from the League to pursue further training for her craft. Since then, she has been making and selling her baskets and teaching workshops in her studio and throughout the United States.
Alice is active in the Arts in Education Program with the NH State Council on the Arts and has taught children’s workshops at the annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair.
“Basketmaking still fascinates me after all these years,” she says. ”I love nature and living in the woods, so basketmaking fits into my lifestyle.”
Some of Alice’s baskets are on display at the Smithsonian Museum through Jan. 12, in an exhibition called “A Measure of Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets” that presents the role basketry has played in the everyday life of Americans. Her work also is featured in Baskets – A Book for Makers and Collectors and is collected by basket lovers around the world.
The League’s annual ornament selection, now in its 26th year, is open to all juried League craftspeople. The ornament is selected by the managers of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Retail Galleries, located in Center Sandwich, Concord, Hanover, Littleton, Meredith, Nashua, and North Conway. Major credit cards are accepted for ordering the ornament by telephone from the Meredith Retail Gallery at 603-279-7920.