Beyond Baskets For Ridgefield artist Kari Lonning, weaving rattan is all about exploring structure, color, and technique. Beautiful vessels, sculptures, and wall pieces are the happy result. ///////////
By Charles Monagan
n her youth, Kari Lonning searched hungrily for a happy home in the world of crafts. She tried her talented hand at ceramics, jewelry
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making, stained glass, silversmithing, blacksmithing, woodworking, quilting, pottery, and textile weaving. All were good but not perfect. And then—to the lasting gratitude of just about everyone—she found her true love: weaving with rattan, also known as basket weaving. Lonning made the fateful switch almost forty years ago, while she was still in her early twenties, not long after selling a woven fabric piece to the Smithsonian Institution. She had, in effect, reached the top of the mountain—only to find the pay up there left something to be desired. While she had learned to live on very
little (rainbows counted for a lot), clearing $120 for a piece that had taken a week or more to make simply was not going to cut it. She looked for inspiration elsewhere and found it in a pursuit and passion that has sustained her right up to the present day. “It wasn’t the baskets themselves that interested me especially,” she says. “It was the building of the weaving that I loved: the strucClockwise from top right: Spools of colorful rattan
at the ready. Protecting Wide Open Spaces (2008), 12″H × 14½″W, double-walled construction with marbles woven into the structure. Sage and Adobe Pinwheel (2013), 17¾″ × 2½″D. Wavy Top (2011), 20″H × 15″W.
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