Basket Maker Stephen Zeh is today’s topic at hand, I’ve had his website bookmarked for a while and it was very kind of Stephen to personally send over some imagery. I love connecting with new creatives and makers, it’s very satisfactory to actually speak to the person and get an insight into their working ways. All I need to do now is actually visit some of these places and take photographs! Plus, Stephens work is said to rank as “the best of its kind ever made”, which is a very powerful thing to say. But I have to agree, his work is aesthetically beautiful, well crafted and very precise. In fact, I’ve never seen weaving like it.
The story behind Stephen is also an interesting one, he learned to make baskets during years spent in the woods, later Eddie Newell, a Penobscot Indian basketmaker, taught him many things about the art of basketmaking. Stephen lives and works in Temple, a small town in Maine, where he collects brown ash wood from the forest which has beautiful subtle tones to it. He then uses his basic woodworking tools to hand scrape the wood after splitting and cutting, once he has the strands he can begin weaving to create a basket that will last for generations and that will certainly get better with age.
Aside from working with wood Mr. Zeh has also been experimenting with precious metals and has had some amazing results, the jewellery type piece looks of high quality and finish. You’ll also see Stephen working on presentation boxes and furniture in a shaker type style, using hand cut dovetails and mortise joinery for one of a kind pieces. In fact this is one element I would like to see more of as I can imagine the exceptional details throughout, this could be very unique indeed.
Overall Stephen’s work is traditional but contemporary, it’s a mixture of all things I like and is quite appealing thanks to its extensive link to nature, considering the wood and the simple hand tools. Seeing Stephen work this way makes me want to go off into the woods and start a craft, it would be a pretty humble living and is no doubt education for the mind and soul. So here’s some imagery to keep you inspired, maybe you’ll be able to experiment with something like this yourself? I’d recommend checking out Stephen’s website for more ideas as his imagery is quite spectacular, both current and from past publications that he’s been featured in. Enjoy.