• Screen shot 2016-01-17 at 1.58.58 PM_edited
  • Screen shot 2016-01-17 at 1.58.58 PM_edited
  • Screen shot 2016-01-17 at 1.58.58 PM_edited

©2017 JoAnn Kelly Catsos

Our Saba Basket Adventure

December 31, 2016

During the summer of 2016, Steve and I were invited to spend 2 weeks on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba.........weaving baskets.  If you have never heard of Saba, you are not alone.  At 5 square miles in size, it's nearly impossible to find on a map of the Caribbean.  The nearest larger island, that we flew into, is Saint Martin; about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico.

 

This is a wonderful article about  Saba     

 

We were there to help revive a historic style of basket that had not been made on the island in over a decade, since the passing of basketmaker Clifton Ambrose Hassell.  The ribbed construction of the basket was familiar to me, but it was woven with an indigenous island plant, the hoop vine, which I had not worked with before. 

 

Together with our new friend, Felis Frederick, a traditional Kalinago basketmaker from Guadeloupe, Steve and I harvested the "hoo bush" and learned to process it into weaving materials. Then we worked many days with an eager group of adult students to transform the hoop vine into the historic Saba basket. 

 

 While Steve was locating and harvesting additional "hoo bush" for the adult class, I was assisting Felis with other classes.  Felis had brought 'arouman', his traditional basketry material from Guadeloupe, which we used to teach two groups of younger pupils. Harvested and processed into basket components by Felis, the bamboo-like material was perfect for the classes and allowed each student to leave with a completed basket.

 

Our two weeks on Saba were fabulous!  The island was beautiful, the people were all welcoming and friendly, and our mission of reviving the Saba basket tradition was a success.  I look forward to returning to Saba again.

 

I want to thank a few people for making our Saba basket adventure possible:

 

  • Lynn Costenaro, owner of the dive shop Sea Saba, who was responsible for initiating and coordinating our trip to Saba.

  • The Dutch government and Saba businesses and organizations who funded our trip. 

  • Adam, our videographer from 'Chizzilala', who made a beautiful video about reviving the tradition of hoo bush basket weaving on Saba.  View the video HERE.

     

     

     

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View more photos from our trip in the gallery below:

 

 

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