Gullah sweetgrass baskets

Driving along the Georgia-South Carolina coast this summer we had the opportunity to see some amazing Gullah baskets.  We visited the Penn Center on St Helena Island (between Savannah and Charleston) – this is the site of one of the first schools for freed slaves and  its purpose today is “to promote and preserve the history and culture of the Sea Islands.”  It has a fascinating museum and a shop selling some beautiful sweetgrass baskets.  Driving into Charleston, we stopped along the roadside and met basketmaker Henry Ford and bought a beautiful basket from him.  I showed him some of my baskets and he was curious to know what they would sell for.  (Nowhere near what his were selling for, but then I don’t have to spend hours collecting and preparing the materials!)  Once in  Charleston (and particularly in the City Market) we saw huge numbers of baskets (typically made from sweetgrass and stitched with palmetto palm).