The Silver Twin's ...Place...
In New England Decorative Art
Part Nine (B)
Possibly by now (in this discourse) one needs to have one’s art diaper changed? Yes the aesthetic I said I ‘wanted’ is inclusive of worn from usage ‘broken’ baskets. I just said (Part Nine [A]) that this state of ‘old basket’ should be there on a true “very old” New England homestead ‘found’ ‘antique’ basket. The basket was made at the ‘place’. Then it was used at the place. Then it was used so long it was ‘worn out’ (not ‘broken’). Then it was ‘put away’. Then it was left alone. Those last were with (all?) the other baskets (ever?) made at... in this incidence... the Silver Twin’s Place... UP in the FAR BACK (“behind” the hay) of the second floor hay loft of “THE BARN” (Part Nine [A] again). They gathered there and remained there until I
Found them, KNEW WHAT I FOUND and... purloined them... for ‘a buck apiece’. And again I re-state: In the antiquarian ‘collector’ realm... the baskets I am highlighting are considered to be “broken” and “no good” (of no monetary value) even though I just told you that they are, in fact, the very true essence of the aesthetic of
Old New England Decorative Art ... of the Silver Twin’s Place.
“Jesus is that LAME or WHAT?”
It is lame and it is ‘or what’. I start with the construction of the basket. The materials; rived splint wood, preferably Ash, was located and procured on the property first... and then ‘prepared’ by ‘soaking’ (in the homestead’s spring water run off “stream”) and ‘beaten’ (along the grain) into ‘rived’ strips. Then these strips were put away until “winter”
During winter (“the dark period”) the strips were ‘brought out’ to the fireplace sitting area... a few at a time. “Soaked” (in hot water), the few strips were ‘prepared’ so that after supper, in the dark, before the fireplace, seated, with the rest of the family including all children, babies, pets and visitors... a PERSON (male or female of much varied ages) MAY ‘make a basket’ “over time”. One of many? One of a few? One of one “ONLY” “EVER”? He? SHE? HER? “Yes Dear you doing a FINE job”. Speaking of one man making one basket once with his whittle knife... or SHE with hers... please be sensitive to understand that this one maker making... one rived soaked wet strip at a time...is IN NO HURRY in the fireplace light with the cold dark winter howling ... Be YOU THERE... for this... slow, deliberate process? Can you... may you... see this ...old New England design form... a ‘decorative art’... emerge....:
From this ponderous crafting. Slow... steady with a fine hand or rough hand, fine skills or rough skills... marked ability or ... no ability...: Maybe a one man makes only one basket for his usage once during his whole lifetime of whittling in the fireplace lighted cold dark...
Or maybe he makes five (baskets).
I feel (I think) I have explained this ‘making’ enough to ‘establish rarity’.
Have I? Do you ‘get it”?
Then... in the spring light... “usage” begins... for real. Forever. “USED” the hand made whittled splint wood ‘basket’ (of whatever form or intended purpose) is... THAT. The basket is used. Ever after... including “AFTER” it is “WORN THROUGH” and then “WORN OUT” and then STILL USED and then... after FOUR GENERATIONS (six or seven?) of same family use of the same basket in the same way for the same homestead...; the “worn out” (“BROKEN”) basket is “saved” by being ‘put away’ and ‘left alone’ with all the other “SAME” “BROKEN” baskets ...on the Silver Twin’s Place... in the ‘upstairs’ at the back of the barn behind the hay...
Okay they could have ‘burned it up’ but, like... are ....YOU gonna hand make a whittled splint farm basket and use it for four generations and then
BURN IT UP?
That explains that doesn’t it. And it explains what happens next.
I purloin the baskets... because I KNOW ‘what they are’. I know what they represent as an old New England Decorative Art ...found... as being derived, crafted, used and preserved ...on the Silver Twin’s Place. I know their aesthetic. I want that.
I do not care if you do.
“Jesus” is that LAME or WHAT?
It is lame and it is ‘or what’.
The first time I became an antiquarian involved with the aesthetic and commercial realities of ‘old (broken) baskets’ I was very young in the trade. I “ahhhh....” was in Junior High School (“middle school”) and was, without conscious efforts ‘getting’ (not buying) old ‘broken’ New England homestead “baskets” that “nobody wants”... so... like... I put them in this old horse stall in my grandmother’s barn and... like... did nothing... and... like... the stall filled up.
One day I was kicking cans down the road of antiques dealing with this older dealer (male) and we went by the horse stall and he says ‘them baskets’
“Yep” boom bang and I gave a price ‘for all’
In the stall.
“I’ll buy them.” He said.
“Why?” I said.
“I like them.” He said. That was the first time I ran straight full bore into ‘this aesthetic’, the knowing about it and the ...
It didn’t fully register for a decade or two. I did fill the horse stall back up.
And emptied it (sold the broken baskets). Again. And again.
The next time that anything really poignant about this old worn basket thing and its aesthetic relative to New England Decorative Art... happened to me was when I... you remember me speaking of this (Part Three)... visited a gallery show titled “American Design in the Rural New England Home”. “I... I.... I’s” in the door and OVER THERE in the gallery occupying a whole ‘far corner’ was a mobile of “ahhhh....” hung free for air puff motioning; dancing ... old New England splint “FARM BASKETS”; an open sculpture moving in space and time of
Old New England splint farm baskets... a New England... ‘design form’
Presented... with no comment (NO COMMENT).
I, of course, “loved that”; seeing ‘them’ ‘that way’. Dancing in air. Yeah but ahhhh.... I’d seen the huddled masses yearning to be free at the back of the old hay in the old barn too so... like...:
“Qualified” Okay? Am I in the barn... or am I in the gallery? That’s... part of the aesthetic... too; the... ahhhh... ‘setting’.
No. Why bother. I like going in old barns. Galleries showing that (what I find in old barns) are very-very ‘few and far between’.
And that is where this rests. Right now, decades later: “Qualified” and “Quandary”?
No. I have just gone on without it... but know it. “It” is the ‘whole “that” outside of “this”’. The ‘outside is the ...unknowing – not seeing (sensing) this aesthetic or, as they say: “It’s no good. IT’S BROKEN. TOO BAD. HUH.”
I’m really alone with all of this most of the time. In the back of the old barns. The Silver Twin’s used ‘broken’ basket hoard? That was what I (we) call ‘a rescue’. I mean... they were just GOLD to my eye but I know how it goes; “Gotta GET BACK to decorating my LIVING ROOM”.
What is your living room anyway?
Maybe I had a living room at the back of the Silver Twin’s barn... just for a handful of old New England seconds? Can you see that? Or is it too... “dirty broken baskets you SELL THOSE?” for you?
So the next thing that happened to me is to find out that I am
In my sense and appreciation of this old New England aesthetic. It is a sense of a design school that, found in old, put away, left alone and abandoned New England.... that offers a very singular view of old New England Decorative Art. It is a ‘very rock’ of the old (colonial era) New England ‘pioneer’ (Emerson – Self Reliance) ‘decorative art’. The ‘crude’ ‘primitive’
Or is it ‘stoic’ ‘jewel’. Does that find expression? And... did the Silver Twin’s Place ‘have one of these (stoic old New England crude primitive design jewels) ‘in there’ that I