Info and Artist Statement
Sandra Atkinson has been weaving since 1983. In 1985 Sandy
and her husband Steve opened Atkinson's Country House where
Sandy could teach weaving and sell basket supplies. The
success of the business grew into a nationwide mail ordering
company. When Steve retired in 2000 he joined the business
full time. Steve has also taken up woodcutting and
chair caning and does
some of the bases for the shop. He also does a little of
everything else that needs doing around the shop. Steve
especially likes doing the conventions and getting to know
the other vendors and students who attend. Sandy says he
is her greatest "PR" man.
In 1986 Sandy approached the U of M - PBS-TV about doing
a series on basket weaving. The concept was enthusiastically
received and the University of Michigan produced the first
two series of "Country Basket Weaving with Sandy Atkinson",
both of which went nationwide. Series three, four and five
were produced by Steve and Sandy Atkinson and also went
nationwide. Sandy is currently working on series 600 and
700. All five series have been picked up by Sterling digital
out of New York State and will begin airing in 2002.
Sandy's most satisfying work is teaching others to weave
and watching that person grow and become creative. She may
start out with a basic basket weaving pattern, but always encourages
the student to use their own ideas and creative ways with
a pattern. "It is so much fun to watch that student
be surprised at his/her own creativeness. To help him/her
use ideas in a basket that I help to pull out of them, then
watch the students satisfaction, is a wonderful feeling.",
"My artistic goal is to keep bringing nature into
my work and expanding my ideas of what a basket is verses
what a weaving is. Most times it is a woven container of
some shape. Some times it is a wall hanging not able to
contain anything. There are times it may be a 3 dimensional
work that's purpose is simply to behold. I have started
working on more artistic pieces, we will have to see where
"My lifetime goal is to never stop learning and creating.
There are times I do feel like I have hit a stone wall and
cannot find my way. Those are the times I turn back to nature
and her ways, her colors and her beauty. I then spend some
time just contemplating and perhaps studying past works
of art, either baskets or other art forms. Last fall my
daughter Nicole asked me to go with her to the Cranbrook
Art Institute on a field trip for her collage art class.
We had a excellent tour guide in her instructor and what
a wonderful time I had. It was just the therapy for the
- hitting the wall syndrome! I have learned through the
years that we all need inspiration at times and the place
to get that inspiration can be from books, art museums,
walks in nature, or whatever you enjoy and can make available
"There are times I will take a walk and look for things
to add to my baskets. Sometimes those things may be a pine
cone, a stone, a vine, perhaps a dried flower or foliage.
Nature has an endless supply of ideas, you just have to
look for them. I enjoy the challenge of most all kinds of
woven baskets, especially the useful and traditional baskets.
I have a tendency to make large creations. I have to keep
that under control as my students want mostly medium size
baskets and "cute creations", so I do those for
the students. I do the others for me."
One of Sandy's life ambitions is to help people understand
that basket weaving is not just a "craft" but
an art form. The word "craft" has lost it's valued
meaning in today's American culture. Where years ago one's
craft was the work a person did for his/her livelihood.
Today, unfortunately the word "craft" is used
loosely to mean the pig made out of a bleach bottle. Therefore,
Sandy's goal has always been to inform the public that basketry
is an art form, with the creator most often wearing the
title of Fiber Artist.
Sandy has taught basket weaving
lessons at Michigan, North Carolina, and Indiana
State Conventions, as well as Missouri, Kentucky, John C.
Campbell School, Michigan Basket Bash, Silver Dollar City,
Michigan Spring Event, Crossroad Weavers, and at many other
state and local workshops. Steve and Sandy have four daughters,
and six grandchildren. They reside in Lennon, Michigan on
a small farm.