|C. Elizabeth Smathers creates these unique baskets using a continuous coiled basket technique, with one row of pine needles being sewn above the next, using various decorative stitches made with natural or dyed raffia or waxed linen. The patterns occasionally are interrupted by slices of nuts or other design elements she introduces to add interest and variety.
Elizabeth uses needles from long-leaf pines from Florida, South Georgia, and Texas which offer the optimum length to minimize the number of additions needed to create the bundles used in making the rows, and she uses short, fine needles for the miniature baskets. The color variations of the needles are determined by the amount of exposure to sunlight or by her dyeing them. Most important to the development of her baskets are the unusual forms she incorporates in their design. Some bases she has formed from shaped and fired raku clay or from sliced wood; for others she turns wooden vessels, or cuts unusual gourd shapes. Each basket, finished with a sealer to protect and strengthen it, is one of a kind, and seems to determine its own shape as it evolves--a single row often requiring an hour to complete.