and gourd artist Toni Klingler discusses her work.
you get started as a basket and gourd artist?
A computer error sent my life in a different direction.
When a computer scheduled both of my French classes for the
same time at the UD for Kids in Dubuque, Iowa, (a summer camp
for Talent and Gifted children), I was asked if I would be interested
in assisting in another class. I chose to help in the basket
weaving class. I watched 3rd and 4th grade girls make a basket
and decided, "I would like to try that!"
you started, what kept your interest?
My continued interest in weaving is motivated by the individuality
of each basket. Twenty people can take the same pattern and
add their own touches to create their own special pieces. I
taught my first basket class as a bible study. Each week the
students started by studying a different Bible verse that referenced
baskets, then they worked on their Easter baskets. Embellishing
gourds seemed like a natural extension of basketry. Now I teach
and create in my own home studio. Also, I can be found sitting
on a tree stump in the woods next to my house weaving or cleaning
do you get inspiration for the baskets and gourds?
In a way, the gourds tell me what to do with them. After I clean
them, I sit them on the table, turn them,then draw where I am
going to cut them open. Sometimes the ideas come quickly and
sometimes they sit for several months. Sometimes I start with
the base color, sometimes with the embellishment, and sometimes
with the rim materials. Each gourd is unique.
usually start from patterns I have bought or created myself.
Then, after following the pattern to make a couple of baskets
I get an idea to change it. I guess I get bored easily. A friend
once asked if I EVER follow a pattern that's provided. I usually
add my own twist, tie-on or embellishment.
have you created out of gourds?
I take dried gourds, clean them, then cut them to create vases,
bowls or masks. Gourd masks are my latest interest and biggest
makes them artistic?
I use several dyeing techniques add a woven rim then "embellish"
the piece. The embellishments are sometimes created from naturals
found on walks in the woods or beads, yarn or feathers from
the craft store.
your art changed over the years?
I used to make only utilitarian baskets. Everything I made could
be used to hold bread, remote controls or knitting. Now my pieces
have more style and individuality.
is your “signature” piece or style?
I do not have a weaving style but my 'signature' is the use
of naturals like driftwood handles or an embellishment with
dried mushrooms or seed pods.
colors do you typically use?
I try not to use colors that I like, instead I use colors I
see most frequently in others' homes.
are your mentors?
Though as a gourd artist I am self-taught, I have had many nationally
renown basket teachers. Venie Hinson from Ohio and Flo Hoppe
from New York are two of my favorites because of the gentle
way they guide their students to success.
Now I like
to go to regional conventions a couple times a year to take
classes from nationally known teachers. This keeps my work from
weave with other basket-weavers?
The basket group in Dubuque gets together once a month in members
homes. I occasionally join the Wisconsin Gourd Society's and
the Quad Cities Basket Guild's monthly gatherings.
your next major project?
It's not a major project, but extremely special. I will be working
with my mother. She will be painting florals on lids for a series
of baskets I am making for a customer.
us a bit about your background.
I'm originally from southeast Iowa, lived in Dubuque 30 years,
and have enjoyed living in Galena since 2001. I'm a retired
teacher, having taught primarily kindergarten and pre-school,
both in private and public schools in Dubuque, finishing with
six years at Grand View Child Development Center. I loved the
excitement for learning that the little ones bring with them
students see your baskets?
In the Fall, I always showed my students how to make a Harvest
basket. I worked about 5-10 minutes everyday for a couple of
weeks. They saw every step in the basketweaving process and
helped me choose colors. When the basket was finished we used
it to hold the fruits and vegetables they brought for our Harvest
can people find your baskets and gourds?
Right now my work is at the Galena Artist Guild Gallery
as well as in the Hello Galena shop. I have exhibited in galleries
in Platteville and Mineral Point, WI. I enjoy doing arts and
craft fairs because I can demonstrate and visit with customers
while sharing my craft with them.
artist Toni Klingler about her work, you may reach her via e-mail.