Enriching lives through art and craft

Clay Burnette

Clay Burnette
Natural Tripod, 2015
Pine needle basketry

Artist Statement:
I make coiled baskets using longleaf pine needles and waxed linen thread.

I am a self-taught basketmaker who has been coiling longleaf pine needles
with waxed linen thread for over 40 years. I follow no patterns and make no
preliminary sketches before I begin a basket. Instead, I prefer to plan a
basket as it is being made. The coiling process is very slow, which allows
me plenty of time to be creative as I stitch.

I am drawn to pine needle basketry because of the uniqueness of the craft
and that fact that I am using sustainable natural materials. The process
combines simple materials – longleaf pine needles, waxed linen thread, and
a large sewing needle – with lots of creative time. I gather pine needles
directly from young longleaf pine trees in the sandhills of South Carolina,
paying particular attention that I do no damage to my source tree. I then
work with the needles in their natural state or combine a dying and painting
process before creating a coil that is stitched together with waxed linen
thread that oftentimes plied with copper wire. I utilize the sheath (the end
that is attached to the tree) of the pine needle instead of removing it. By
using the sheath, I am able to create patterns and textures that open the
process to fresh, eye-catching objects. When a basket is completed, it is
preserved with a coating of beeswax and signed with my initials – CB.

I never tire of making pine needle baskets because the coiling process
allows me total freedom to create shapes that are only limited by my
imagination and time. I am always anxious to start another basket as soon
as I complete the object at hand. The passion to make yet another basket
is a driving force in my creative life.

Artist Bio:
Clay Burnette is a self-taught pine needle basketmaker who has has been coiling
longleaf pine needles with waxed linen thread for almost 45 years . He has exhibited
his work in over 250 exhibition venues throughout the US and abroad. His work was
included in Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America, which traveled the US
for the past 3 years. In 2019, his work was selected for the top Award of Excellence at
the National Basketry Organization’s (NBO) 10th Anniversary Exhibition in Bowling
Green, KY He also received the NBO award in 2013. In 2000, his work was selected
for inclusion in two significant exhibitions: Contemporary International Basketry, which
opened in Manchester, England and toured the United Kingdom for two years; and 100
Years/100 Artists: Views of the 20th Century in SC Art, exhibited at the SC State
Museum in Columbia, SC. He was the 1987 recipient of the SC Arts Commission’s
Craft Fellowship and is included in numerous public and private collections including
Abacus Planning Group, Columbia, SC; Southern Progress (Southern Accents
Magazine), Birmingham, AL; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC; SC Archives &
History Center, Columbia, SC; AGL Resources, Atlanta, GA; SC State Art Collection,
Columbia, SC; and the SC State Museum.

He has exhibited his baskets at the Smithsonian Craft Show, Philadelphia Craft Show,
ACC Atlanta Craft Show, ACC Charlotte Craft Show, SOFA New York, and SOFA
Chicago. His works have been included in numerous print publications including
Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America; Contemporary International
Basketmaking; Baskets: Tradition and Beyond; 500 Baskets; and Craft in America:
Celebrating the Creative Work of the Hand. His work was included in Tradition/
Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft & Traditional Art, a regional
exhibition that recently toured the southeastern US for six years. In 2011, his work was
included in a 3-year exhibit at the US Embassy in Dakar, Senegal as part of the US Art
in Embassies Program.

ART WORKSTENNESSEE ARTS COMMISIONTENNESSEE FOR THE ARTSTennessee Specialty License PlatesEAST TENNESSEE FOUNDATIONWindgate Foundation Arrowmont is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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