Charlene Long

Willow & Honeysuckle Basket Making

Charlene Long

Recipient Information

Location

Upton (Hart County), Kentucky

Medium

Willow & Honeysuckle Basket Making

Year of Award

2020

Grant or Fellowship

Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowship

Grant Amount

$9,000

Artist Biography

A love of baskets for Charlene Long of Hart County began when she was given a basket at the age of 15 by the woman who later became her mother-in-law, Gertrude Long. Her husband, Charlie, representing the fifth generation to make baskets in his family, learned as a child and passed the skill along to his wife. The Long’s baskets represent both tradition and innovation: basket making with local materials is a longstanding tradition in Appalachia. The first generations of their family to make baskets in the 1800s used strictly willow, but the Longs began weaving with honeysuckle, another plant native to Hart County, in addition to willow. The materials are first gathered locally, boiled, and stripped of bark. The Longs also “invented different forms, like trays, a covered cake plate, cups and saucers, fans and dippers, mostly decorative items,” for an age of people that use baskets for decoration instead of  utilitarian purposes, Long explains.

Long’s baskets are a staple in her community, winning top prizes at the Hart County Fair each year. She has demonstrated at schools and participated in festivals. She is continually learning from observation, and with the fellowship, she plans on taking classes on basket weaving with other styles from Beth Hester in Scottsville, Kentucky, Jo Campbell-Amsler in Iowa, and teachers at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee, Mullins Log Cabin Country Basket Makers in Berry, Kentucky, and the Appalachian Center for the Arts in Pikeville, Kentucky. She also has a deep dedication to teaching, so the fellowship will also support the gathering and processing materials for classes in her community.