400 Winslow Way East, #120
Bainbridge Island
Washington 98110
206 780-9500
Hours: Tues-Sat 11-6, Sun Noon-5, Closed on Mondays


Viola Knudsen

A prolific artisan born in Missouri and raised amid the natural beauty of the rural Midwest, Viola Pace Knudsen has recently been drawn to the pre-Columbian art form of intricately coiled baskets, free-form sculptures which she constructs from hand-gathered needles of Florida's long leaf pine.  The pine needles are sterilized and cleaned; the baskets are then created using the coil method, and often incorporate sliced, polished walnuts, shells, or other found treasures of nature. After drying the completed baskets for several days two coats of polyurethane are applied to them for durability.

Viola has sent us some very interesting information about her art, including some of its history, and her process:

HISTORY: Pine needle art is one of the oldest crafts known. It dates back some 9000 years, even before pottery, which was made by lining twig baskets with clay.

The indigenous people were the first to make pine needle baskets. They used a sharp piece of sea shell or bone as a needle. Some of the baskets were used for carting water, also for winnowing seeds, or as feed baskets.

During the Civil War the women made hats of pine needles. They were sewn together with homespun threads. As transportation became more widely used raffia as well as sinew was used to sew the baskets. Raffia comes from the raffia palm which grows on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. However, today the art of pine needle basketry is still being done by a few creative people. There is no limit to what one can do with pine needles along with a little imagination and skills, which will come with patience and practice. Different types of stitches used include the buttonhole, plain, fern, crow’s foot, chain, open V, diamond, wheat stitch, and the Indian wrap.

Pine needles are a gift of nature’s bounty woven with loving care into small vessels, wherein the Native Americans believed their soul rested secure from evil spirits. The concept of pine needle art is a “lost art” being revived in this era. Most anything that can be imagined has the capacity to be made from this gift from the pines.

PROCESS: After hand collecting the needles one at a time, they must be fresh or newly fallen, not ones that have been weathered for any length of time. I lay them with the ends together in a dishpan and cover them with boiling water. They need to soak for at least one hour. This kills any insects that may be in them and also makes them more pliable. After draining the water I scrape the heads off using a clay ribbon tool. This hopefully keeps the pair intact which gives a much nicer finished product.

Then they are coiled using a copper gauge and some sort of heavyweight waxed thread.  After the coiling is finished they are allowed to dry completely and brushed inside and out with polyurethane. Once that is dry I rub them briskly with t-shirt fabric to break off any pointy ends that might be sticking out.


Product Image Item Name- Price
VIOLA KNUDSEN: 1 - Undulating Pine Needle Basket

VIOLA KNUDSEN: 1 - Undulating Pine Needle Basket

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Max: 1

VIOLA KNUDSEN: 7 - Seagrass basket with Jasmine

VIOLA KNUDSEN: 7 - Seagrass basket with Jasmine

Seagrass basket with jasmine Dimensions: 8" diameter & 5.75" opening x 3" tall

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