Jerry Maxey: Since childhood, I have worked with wood in various ways, building things and refinishing furniture at my father’s upholstery shop. He taught me how to do chair caning. In my early thirties I found myself living in a small apartment in a new city where, for the first time, I had no access to a workshop. I became desperate for something to make. I tried drawing, writing, cross-stitch, sewing, but nothing was satisfactory.
Then a weaver friend of mine gave me a couple of little books with basket patterns in them. Only a few hand tools were required and no workshop was needed. I made a couple of baskets and I became obsessed.
For the first few years, my materials were limited to dyed rattan and sea grass. I worked to find ways to make each basket unique. I got access to a wood shop and began to make baskets with wooden bases, then later with wooden rims and rings.
The characteristics of the wood inspire the form of the basket. The basket’s rim and base will usually come from the same log. I love taking rescued firewood and transforming it into art.
I do not draw or write down the patterns in advance, but have a clear picture in my mind how each piece might turn out. For me, each piece I make is a sketch for the next piece and the patterns evolve over time. Sometimes I will repeat a particular pattern or construction, but no two works are ever quite alike.
For more about this artist, enjoy this lovely profile on Jerry published by TOWN Carolina publication.