WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER | PHOTOS PROVIDED
Creating handmade baskets is a tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years, but accomplished weavers like Beverly Cornelius prove there are still new things to learn from this ancient art form.
Once content to simply weave and recreate an existing pattern, Beverly was inspired to craft something new for Beekman 1802.
“It was a real challenge, both as a weaver and working with other tradespeople to take what was in my mind and make it a reality,” she said.
The result is a tasteful tea-stained reed basket atop a circular base, strapped together with reddish-brown leather and a wood handle. It cleverly combines beauty with functionality.
Designing the chic modern wine basket that Beekman 1802 carries was quite spontaneous. Beverly adapted a basic wine carrier pattern by whipping off the belt she was wearing and weaving it in as a handle.
“As soon as they saw it, they shouted, ‘We want exactly that!’” she said.
Weaving and Teaching
The progression of Beverly’s style develops in the moments when she has the free time to experiment.
“I’m self-motivated. I don’t know how anyone does this if they’re not, and this is not the only thing I do,” she said.
She also loves to garden and work in the kitchen preserving her harvest. She’s been a teacher at the Adirondack Folk School since its inception, demonstrates early arts and crafts at several state historic sites, and is involved in a private weaving group.
“Weaving is the fun part but I’ve had to learn to pace myself because I still love doing it.”
Beverly’s other interests help to grow her craft, she said, as she learns from others to take chances where she may not have otherwise.
The Saratoga Totes
Improvisation is how the Saratoga Tote series was born.
Discovering that equestrian leather is smooth and soft, Beverly began using it and stainless-steel horse tack to create interesting strapping on her totes. Woven with a reinforced bottom, and finely finished, these totes are supple and fit the body well, so you’ll be able to easily carry your goods around town.
“Saratoga is us. All of us who live in the Capital area feel connected to Saratoga,” she said of the style.
Beverly’s still looking for a shop in town that has enough room to carry them, however you can follow Beverly Cornelius Baskets on Facebook for updates, find them at the William Coffey Studio in Northville, and sign up for her class at the Adirondack Folk School.
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