Sanna Parikka, OFN Intern
Kelli Palmer and her apprentice, Joy Ramirez, create American Indian cornhusk baskets and bags by combining the traditional materials, cornhusk and buckskin hide, with colorful rayon raffia ribbon. Traditionally, cornhusk baskets were used for food storage and during wedding trades. Since then, the craft has developed to include purses, side bags, and horse regalia for show.
Cornhusk weaving is a labor-intensive art form. The husk needs to be handled wet, and an experienced weaver can take up to an hour to complete just one row of a basket. Nevertheless, Palmer strives to use real cornhusk as much as possible; she adds colored rayon raffia because its colors last much longer than the hues of colored cornhusk. For her designs, Palmer sometimes pre-draws the pattern, but she also enjoys creating the images as she weaves without a predetermined design in mind. This inspires her to create novel designs, and that that’s how the patterns were traditionally being created, too.
According to Palmer, cornhusk weaving is currently gaining in popularity, and her classes fill up very quickly. She is happy to be able to teach the intricacies of the skill to Ramirez, so that eventually they can start teaching weaving classes together, preserving and passing on this skill for yet another generation.