Pine Needle Baskets- Resourceful Art


   I just got back from Florida from a family visit and just have to share what I saw in the realm of creativity and resourcefulness. The pine needle basket you see here was made by Cass Scopino. With a career in Social Work, Cass is also a creative with a back yard full of Pine trees that shed Pine needles. Yes, I know, you’re thinking Florida- you mean Palm trees. Well Florida has its own indigenous species of Pine and the needles are long and splendid for making baskets. 

   Not only is it impressive that she can recycle her ‘yardifacts’, but Cass incorporates interesting objects such as beads, jewelry brooches and dream weavers into her pieces of art. That’s not all. Once she learned how to stitch the baskets, she signed up with a ceramics studio collective and produces bases that show a wonderful contrast of glazed clay against the organic needles. I own two of these hybrids myself.

   Cass has been resourceful not only in her use of readily available materials, but also in her choice to surround herself with other creative people at the ceramic studio and at a co-op gallery who are supportive of each others growth. What was also refreshing was to see how Cass showed appreciation for her teacher, who had amazingly huge sculpted basket forms in a gallery nearby. It sounded like she’d studied with her for years. Based on her perfection of technique and design, I had assumed she had. Considering her natural eye for design, she’s just a fast learner for technique. She told me it was a 2 hour class to start, then one more class to follow up. Yes, creative wannabes, there are places where you can take a one day workshop or Adult Ed class that can get you started in little or no time. Be resourceful and adventurous! Considering her day job and its own rewards, I’ve watched her work on her baskets, moments of Zen.      

   How can you be more resourceful as a creative? Look around to see what is right there at your fingertips. It may be a box of old buttons or a pile of magazines from the1990s that you’ve been meaning to go through again. (Really, some of us do think we will).

    One lady I read about made hundreds of sculpture from her dryer lint. I think she had a lot of laundry and this creative challenge at least made it interesting. What a lovely reward at the end of a long day of laundry, lint zoo animals. Watch out dust bunnies.

    How can ordinary “junk” take the place of traditional media? Try cutting the plastic bags from the grocery store into strips and crochet them into a bag .Even the pine needle baskets can be made from other materials.  If you look around you’ll surely find something.   


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5 responses to “Pine Needle Baskets- Resourceful Art

  1. HI Cheryl
    My sixth, seventh and eighth graders create beautiful coil baskets using this ancient techniques with modern materials (paper core and yarn). One of the kids mom’s who has some Native American ancestry visited the class and showed us how to create the baskets with the traditional materials. It is hard to get the long pine needles up here in CT. Her sister down south sends them to her. We have also used thie technique to create tiny baskets from string and embroidery floss and metal wires.
    Sounds like you enjoyed your vacation!

  2. CodyAnne

    Wow, that’s pretty awesome!

  3. ann copelli

    Amazing story! Next time I visit you I’d love to see the “hybrid” you own.

  4. Mary P. Scopino

    Cheryl – All your articles are so interesting – but of
    course the Pine Needle Baskets made me take notice. You are a gifted writer, among other talents.

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