History of the American Cranberry
Cranberry is one of only three native fruits to North America (blueberries
and grapes are the other two).
To learn even more about the history of cranberries, click here.
History of the Nantucket Lightship BasketIn 1659, when the first white settlers came to Nantucket, a need for storage and transportation of household wares arose. Basket making was one of the many skills that the friendly natives taught the new settlers. These early baskets were made with materials that were readily available at the time; namely ash, oak, or hickory was used. These woods were made into splints by pounding and separating along the annual rings. This style of weaving baskets is the origin of many styles of baskets used today. Of all these styles, perhaps the shaker baskets most readily reflect their connection to the original methods and materials used by the early settler.
In the 1830's, as the whaling industry started to flourish, ships sailed further and further from their home ports as local whale numbers dwindled. When ships sailed into the Pacific rim, they brought back a material used for basket construction by natives in that part of the world; namely rattan was obtained. Rattan is a long vine-like plant that looks much like bamboo except that it has a solid core. From this long vine, local natives would cut the outer bark off in long strips and use this strong, yet pliable, material for many things including basketry.
Today, this material is better known as cane, and the pithy interior portion of the plant is referred to as reed. The introduction of rattan to the weaving process is one of the key elements that helped create the distinctive look of Nantucket baskets. The other elements, solid wooden bottoms and wooden molds were used by both the Native population, as well as the Shakers. It was the combination of these three elements, as well as the keen craftmanship that gave Nantucket baskets their unique character.
In 1856, when the first Lightship was commissioned to warn ships of the dangerous shoals off the southern shores of Nantucket, many of the sailors took basket making materials with them to relieve themselves from the long hours of boredom. It is from this era that the baskets received their name and reached a state of refinement that caused them to be widely sought after. In 1945, José Reyes came to Nantucket to vacation and soon decided to stay. From his home in the Philippines, he brought a working knowledge of rattan and a sense of imagination that led him to create the "friendship basket," or handbag; possibly the most recognized and popular forms of this art. It is from the tradition of craftsmenship, creativity, and ingenuity that today's weavers draw upon to create their own personal expression of the Nantucket Lightship Basket.