The Traditional Ash Pack Basket

Contemporary design inspired by the earlier Northwoods pack baskets from the 19th Century.  This one was made by Bill Mackowski in Milford, Maine.

Taken from Bill’s site:

Nothing speaks of the traditions of the Maine woods or the mountains of the Adirondacks like a hand crafted brown ash (black ash if you’re from away) pack basket.  Imbedded in the very creation of the Native Abenakis (People of the Dawn), brown ash is the most unique and durable of all natural or manmade weaving materials.  Nothing can compare with its texture, workability, and visual beauty.  Even its smell has an unusual and inspiring quality.  Although it has been the preferred material of untold utilitarian and artistic basket creations, to me, it’s true beauty reaches its pinnacle in the lines and character of a hand crafted pack basket.

For hundreds of years, no self respecting guide, trapper, or woodsman ventured into the woods of Northern New England and New York without his pack.  It was as critical as his bed roll or tea bucket.  It was his signature piece of apparel.

Many of these packs were made by the guides themselves, but many more were made by the basket makers that lived and crafted throughout the North East.  To me, every one was a unique and artistic creation.  Each maker having his little variation or particular quirk in the crafting.  Unfortunately, most of these craftsman never marked their work, and their styles have been lost over time.  Those packs that remain and are traceable to any of these old craftsman, are truly a piece of North woods history.”

LL Bean used to market one much closer to those shown below [and may still].

A web clip of what I assume entries at a “common-ground” type craft fair

Traditional Pack Baskets are available from a good number of craftsmen throughout New England and can be ordered online from most.

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