August Wood carefully inserts an awl to create an opening between rows of the basket he’s been working on. He pulls a piece of willow branch shaved down to about 1/16-inch thickness from the plastic bowl half-full of water he uses to soften the woody stem.
Placing one end of the willow into the hole, Wood pulls the softened splint through, leaving a small tail behind, which he’ll work into the basket’s body later.
He works another opening close to where he started the splint, and loops the willow around and through, making a smooth stitch along the rod of cattail that anchors the stitches. After a few stitches with the creamy white willow, Wood switches to a splint of black devil’s claw, following a pattern that’s in his head.
Wood’s work, including tightly woven baskets that he thinks could hold water, medallions for necklaces, earrings and other pieces are