“Craft and art have blurred in the last century, where craft is more like art, and art is more like craft,” said Encinitas resident Buck Owens. “I am the most focused and detached at the time I am making a basket and that is true of any artwork that I do. Painting or weaving or when I was making paper or even teaching kids to enjoy and grow with their art.”
A local artist, retired art teacher, and basket craftsman, Owens relocated with his wife, Sharon, to Encinitas from Seattle in 2009. “We just love the environment here, sun and surf, great weather. The trees and plants…it is all so great here in Encinitas.”
Frequenting the , and , Owens finds inspiration all around him. “I am inspired by many things: art, music, literature, nature and science. I really feel the most alive when I am working on art. I think of artists like Georgia O'Keeffe and Picasso that were making art into their 90’s and that really keeps me going — wanting to make as many baskets as possible.”
Owens was no stranger to fiber art, weaving, and baskets when he got his first taste of Appalachian basket weaving in 1981. After surviving an accident and taking a leave of absence from teaching to recover, Owens discovered a basket-making workshop near his neighborhood in Denver,CO, at a shop called Skyloom Fibers.
“I went in to sign up for the class, bought the materials needed and showed up on Saturday morning. I had done many different types of weaving and had made sculptures out of rope for many years so it came very naturally to me. In fact, it was as if I had been making them for my whole life it was that natural.”
Natural enough that Owens has been making and selling them ever since, and has somewhere between 400 to 500 Appalachian-style baskets out in the world being used and well loved. Each basket can take between 20 and 40 hours to create. “I do a very quick sketch of new work before starting. For the most part I have a strong feeling that the basket tells me what to do. I know this sounds weird but I let it flow from me to the basket and back.”
Predetermining the size, shape, and color before setting to work, the time frame of each basket includes the dyeing of the reed used. With such a beautifully crafted final product, each handmade basket is photographed by Owens and displayed on his brand new website, and can be found at FreeHand Gallery in Beverly Hills. “My wife has a nice collection of them,” said Owens, “and I do make them for gifts to family and friends, weddings and such.” Owens also does commissioned work.
“I have a great color sense and don't really have to think much about how one of my baskets goes together,” said Owens, “After several hundred of them they pretty much make themselves.”
For more information about Buck Owens and his hand-crafted Appalachian baskets, please visit his website, basketcraftsman.com.