During January’s Brown Bag Lecture on Tuesday, Jan. 3, Nadine Taylor discussed with the crowd how she taught herself to weave baskets and why. Taylor uses pine needles and raffia to weave intricate patterns into small baskets; she says she loves the health benefits. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to learn something new? Are you finding it hard to fit ‘learning’ into your busy schedule? If it is, and you are, then the Virgin Valley Artists have an easy way to keep your resolution and learn something on your lunch hour; Brown Bag Luncheons.

The Virgin Valley Artists Association (VVAA) have kept up with their wonderful Brown Bag lecture series over the years and began the New Year with a new idea for those who want to do something different, like learning to weave baskets.

Eighteen years ago Nadine Taylor taught herself how to weave baskets. Taylor uses pine needles and raffia to weave intricate patterns into small baskets. She says there are many health benefits to weaving; it helps her arthritis and it reduces stress which in itself has a load of benefits.

During the January Brown Bag Lecture held at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery on Jan. 3, Nadine Taylor discussed basket weaving using pine needles and raffia. This is one example of the intricate and tightly woven stitches that Taylor and her granddaughter use for their basket weaving. The ‘thread’ is raffia threaded onto a regular embroidery needle. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Taylor says the small baskets are much harder to weave than the large ones. Taylor showed baskets ranging from about 12 inches and oblong-shaped down to a perfectly round one that is just an inch in diameter and more plate-like. Because Taylor puts so much of herself into the baskets (one small basket may take four months to complete) she doesn’t sell her work but gives it away to the people she loves. She puts so much of herself into her work she says that it’s the most special thing she can think of to give someone; a part of herself.

By weaving about a half an hour a day, Taylor says it loosens up her hands and helps keep them from getting stiff and sore. The majority of Taylor’s work, or at least what was shown, is smaller, more decorative baskets that are useful for home décor or holding smaller things like change, keys and other miscellaneous items.

On a larger, more practical note, baskets have been used as a means of storage, water hauling and transportation of items, even ammunition, for as long as we have existed.

Evidence of this has been discovered in the form of stone carvings from around 20,000 years BC. The materials used would have depended on people’s surroundings and varied considerably, from willow to roots, brambles, vines, oak, ash, hazel, bamboo, leaves, straw, rush and bark. Some things were woven, others were coiled.

It is topics like basket weaving and many others that draw crowds of Mesquite residents to the gallery the first Tuesday of each month. Learning something new is always a good thing. Learning keeps the mind sharp and the body feeling better, just ask Taylor. The VVAA has a calendar full of classes from watercolor painting to pottery that are for any level of interest and skill. And, don’t forget the lectures. February’s Brown Bag will be a presentation on Israel by Sonia Adelman.

For more information about all the new things you can learn that are available through the VVAA, contact them at 702-346-1338 or visit their web site, www.mesquitefineartscenter.com.