JoAnn Kelly Catsos is an award-winning black ash splint basketmaker and teacher living in the northern Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. JoAnn's designs are influenced by traditional Shaker and New England splint basketry, and woven on molds made with help from her woodworker husband, Steve. She has been teaching basketry full time for over 35 years. Her teaching venues include art and craft schools, fiber/basketry conferences, local guilds and private groups across the country.
Steve passed away in September 2023, but his memory lives on in the molds, splint, handles and more that he created for JoAnn's baskets.
JoAnn's baskets have won numerous awards, including Viewer's and People's Choice at basketry conventions and fiber/basketry exhibitions. Her baskets are in many private and public collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and are featured in a number of books and magazines, such as the 2007 publication of 500 Baskets. In 1999 JoAnn was honored to have an ornament on the official White House Christmas Tree. She also received her Certificate of Excellence in Basketmaking: Level I from the Handweavers Guild of America in 2003, becoming one of the first two recipients in the country. In October 2012, one of her baskets, Jubilique, graced the cover of The Crafts Report Magazine. In February 2017, JoAnn's weaving and Steve's splint processing was on an episode of Handcrafted America. It can be seen on Amazon Prime (season 2, episode 7)
Until recently, JoAnn and Steve processed splint from black ash trees harvested near their home. They also made the wooden molds, handles, and rims needed for each basket. JoAnn used these materials in her signature baskets, and in her classes. The weaving material is marketed as Berkshire Splint.
JoAnn enjoys teaching, but always looks forward to the time spent weaving her own signature baskets. Thirty five years ago, her baskets were based on traditional Shaker and native New England utilitarian styles; while the clean lines have remained, her baskets have evolved into smaller, more finely woven, intricately patterned vessels. To obtain the symmetry that she desires, each of her baskets is woven over a wooden mold that is removed once the weaving is completed.
Miniature baskets are her passion. Weaving high quality miniatures with splint 1 /64 of an inch wide is definitely a challenge, but incredibly rewarding. JoAnn's goal is to maintain the highest quality of craftsmanship possible in her miniature and other black ash splint baskets.
JoAnn lives in Halcott Center, NY in a home she built with her late husband Steve. She has three grown children, and a grandchild.