Sweet grass is also known as holy grass, vanilla grass, or Seneca grass. It is hand gathered by Native Americans in various parts of the United States, as well as in Canada. The grass is combed, sorted and dried in small bundles. This grass has been used in traditional Native American basketry as well as for ceremonial purposes where the grass is bundled with sage leaves and cedar leaves. It is then and then smoldered in "smudging ceremonies" for the cleansing of the spirit. The grass releases a natural oil as it dries that gives off a sweet vanilla-tobacco like fragrance that will remain indefinitely in each sculptural basket.
I made my first basket over 20 years ago and realized my passion for building vessels. I journeyed through many different materials and techniques for several years, but found a huge challenge in the creation of coiled baskets. Once I mastered the traditional technique with pine needles and raffia, I was convinced that this was my niche. I began to search for a unique material and had the ambition to create a unique style. Circumstances fell in my favor, I secured a source for sweet grass and then began breaking all of the traditional rules that I had practiced. The result has been sculptural forms that continue to surprise and fascinate me.