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TWE FUN STUFF: The Wacky Basketry of Fiber Artist Emily Dvorin

Emily Dvorin, sculptural fiber artist

UPDATE 9/18/16: We ran into Emily at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival with loads of new baskets. Look at the one she was working on made out of coffee pods! This woman is soooo creative!

Emily Dvorin, basket weaver/Photo: P. Burke

By Pamela Burke/October 2, 2013

When I think of baskets—and I’ve always loved them—I think of the wonderfully woven, deep containers that you can put anywhere and stuff anything into.  Recently TWE ran into objects that were called baskets but that added a new perspective to the definition.


“Big Fat Hairy Deal”

We found these non-traditional containers at the Mill Valley Art Festival in northern California. Using materials from the hardware store, cable ties and other found objects, scuptural fiber artist Emily Dvorin has fashioned the most whimsical and imaginative art pieces.  She claims almost anything can be used to make them.  Think curlers, paintbrushes, wooden spools, plastic forks, tees, and whatever else is in the kitchen sink.

Emily says she’s trying to change the definition of the word basket.  They are “transordinary” vessels she engineers with color and texture.  She also loves the unexpected ingredients she finds to make them.  Take a look below at what she fashioned with brightly colored pencils, adding a few neon cable ties for support, a little bit of sass and voilá!


“Caught Doing Good”

And what about those toy parts lying around the house accomplishing nothing? These can be priceless materials for a new arrangement. Below she’s taken plastic leftovers and structured yet another colorful piece of quirky art.  Recognize any of these items?


“Well Loved”

People don’t seem to know what to make out of her objet as they are so far beyond the concept of what we know as baskets. Some may call this a craft rather than art.  Emily’s response: “I dance on the cusp of fine art and fine craft.”

Emily obviously loves junk and thinks we take for granted what we throw away. Shaping these odds and ends into something new and fabulous is her challenge.  In case you think some of these designs are wacky, she does teach a course called “Wacky Basketry.”


“Frizzle Frazzle”

Whatever genre these creations are, we love their artistry and spunk. So as you peer at your surroundings, take a longer look and see what might work as a reassembled object. Emily makes good use of vegetable bags and toothbrushes—simple items whose life can be short. And don’t forget to eyeball musical instruments.  She once created a basket using felt hammers from a piano.

Feast your eyes on “Spun,” one of Emily’s favorite pieces, made with slinkies and cable ties. If you look closely you’ll see the precompressed springs that formally brought great joy as they maneuvered  down steps.  Bravo to Emily for coming up with such an imaginative use of a classic child’s toy! Take a look at more of her fun creations here.

Emily Dvorin's sculptural basketry, SPUN


Basket photos by Pamela Burke; remaining photos from Emily Dvorin