Artisan: George Goodin (1948 – 2019)
Date / Location: 2015 at the Craft Shop at Milford House
Craft: Traditional Mi’kmaq Baskets
Materials — Traditional: Ash and Leather George Goodin was trained by basket maker and former chief of the Bear River Mi’kmaq community, Frank Muise. George has more than 20 years of experience in his craft.
Traditional Mi’kmaq baskets are based on forest harvested ash trees. The ideal tree, having a diameter of about 6 to 14 inches (15 – 35 cm) must be straight grained and free of knots and twists for at least 4 to 8 feet (1.2 – 2.5 m) at the base. Selected logs are hand split with axes and once the heart wood is split out, each of the sticks is ‘squared up’. This is done by shaving each length to a uniform width using a draw knife an d shaving horse. The distinctive Mi’kmaq procedure of pounding ash is the key step in the extraordinary art form of traditional basketry. Continuous pounding of the inner and outer surfaces of each stick slowly breaks down and separates the fibers that bind the tree’s growth rings together resulting in the thin strips that will be used to weave the baskets. The strips are then scraped and/or split to produce a smoother surface before weaving.
Other materials that are used in the making of these baskets such as maple, spruce root and birch bark are all hand harvested and provide distinctive touches and symmetry that make George’s baskets and creels so appealing to the eye. His skill and care result in objects that, even with use,
will survive for many years as they develop a beautiful patina (e.g. the 20+ year old creel on the chair). George has passed on his skills to his son, Josey, who now also excels in the craft.