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Contemporary Basketry with Japanese Influence

"only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go".
T.S. Eliot


The first three years in San Francisco have been exciting, satisfying and revealing. Somehow the months, then years flew by. Exploring the area and reconnecting with fiber/bamboo/garden friends has provided hours of pleasure and many smiles.

Moving here has reminded me that my NYC and Amherst life patterns do not necessarily transfer neatly to my life here. Also, there is the ever present reminder that I am getting older and must take care to keep myself moving and healthy. Now I wear a FITBIT which reminds me of how many steps I have walked daily and how many stairs/hills I have climbed. It is a bit of a nag and reminds me on email.

We have changed to the downstairs apartment which gives easy access to the garden and allows us to avoid the stairs multiple times a day. Read this, think of my FITBIT and smile!

Recently I picked, cooked and ate the first artichoke I have grown myself. How "Farm to Table" and Californian!

Photo of Nancy Moore BessPREVIOUSLY
What a surprise to share with all of you.
We have moved back to the Bay Area in California! I exchanged the sunny studio in Amherst for one here and I am enjoying the California sun (and fog) again.

Moving back to California was a crazy, hectic, and ultimately satisfying adventure. We have settled in the Outer Sunset part of San Francisco. I can walk the dog in Golden Gate Park (1 1/2 blocks away) each morning and along The Great Highway (7 blocks away) at the edge of Ocean Beach each afternoon.

The new studio is, as predicted, sunny (mostly) and inviting. It faces the ocean, and I can see a bit of it when it isn't foggy. Although I share the space with the two cats (one 18 years old), it is spacious enough to accommodate my library, collectibles and two Ikea worktables. Right now, one table is covered with old Japanese book pages and red silk thread. Exciting to think of what is evolving there.

I have discovered a favorite, independent book store (Green Apple) and fabric store (Satin Moon), located where Live at the Met is broadcast, and found several paper stores in Japantown and on Fillmore. I have gone to book signings and a basketry lecture at the DeYoung Museum nearby.

I am home.

PREVIOUSLY
It has been ten years since the original head shot was taken for promoting my book, Bamboo in Japan. It seemed appropriate to update this image since I don’t really look like that anymore. During those intervening years, I have traveled back to Japan several times, spent some time in Hawaii, done lots of travel teaching, finally got my dog (Momo), and fought off some broken bones. All the while, I have continued in my studio and in my office.

The studio now has French-style doors that let in wonderful light, some bouncing off the new deck directly outside. The door opens on to a small side yard with one bed planted with very tall and elegant bamboo. The floor itself is now light bamboo flooring instead of the rust painted subflooring. What a great improvement that is. I have reorganized my storage which allows me to have much more tabletop space for working on multiple projects. It is a luxury to have a table just for “wet work” that does not have to be broken down when I need the space for twining over foam. One bookshelf is filled with Japanese books on wrapping, some purchased this winter in Honolulu! I can’t wait for good weather, so that I can take everything outside.

Important dates often mean days that have marked peak moments of our lives – wedding date, birth dates for our children, deaths of our parents and close friends. For me there are several other dates that I celebrate because they changed my life. One was certainly finding my first basketry class in Spring 1972 – California farm girl learns to weave baskets at the Crafts Student's League on 8th Avenue in New York City! Another would be my purchase of How to Wrap Five Eggs and the exposure that book gave me to traditional Japanese packaging, the inspiration for much of my work for many years. My first trip to Japan in the fall of 1986 changed my life forever, introducing me to the world of Japanese bamboo and basketry with an intimacy I had not anticipated. Inspired by that trip and many that followed, the publication of my book, Bamboo in Japan, with a Japanese publisher, Kodansha International, in Spring 2001 marked the culmination of years of research in Japan, Hawaii, and New York City.

Somehow all of those influences – basketry, Japan, Japanese packaging, bamboo – merged into one career of almost forty years, in which no part stands alone. What an interesting life it is turning out to be.
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