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The Horsehair Creations of Jane Chavez

Photo courtesy of Jane Chavez

7 3/4 inches x 4 1/4 inches

THE ARTIST: Jane Chavez

KNOWN FOR: Exquisite baskets crafted from glossy coils of horsehair, embellished with beads, feathers, coral, or bone.

IT STARTED IN ARGENTINA: I've always, always loved horses, and I love baskets. I grew up part of my life in Argentina, and when I was a little girl I used to wait on Saturday morning for this vendor who sold baskets from a horse-drawn cart. I'd run out and look at all the baskets and pet hte horse, and that was kind of my first introduction to baskets.

HORSEHAIR AND SILVER: I started out making pine-needle baskets. One day I was combing my horse's tail and long strands were coming out, and I thought: 'I'm going to make a basket out of my horsehair.' I use hand-stamped sterling silver on the bottom. I have a design trademark for the combination of precious metal and horsehair.

COILS OF CHARACTER: I love doing commissioned pieces—polo ponies, dressage horses, cutting horses, Clydesdales, Olympic-hopeful horses and a lot of backyard horses. I ask the owners to send me a picture, and while I'm creating the  basket, I'll be looking at the horse. I really try to customize it. If the horse has four white stockings, I might put in four difference bands of white horsehair. When the basket is finished, I do a write-up of what I was thinking about and the different techniques used. Each of them has a story with it.

WORK AND PLAY: A four-inch basket will take about a month. I try not ot be real obsessive—I usually work about four hours a day, and then I get up and I go ride my horses.

ON VIEW: "Preserving a Moment, Preserving an Art," October 6-31, 2016. Sorrel Sky Gallery, Durango, Colorado


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