Weaving a mystery: scrap wood as woven art

Local artisan uses forestry project leftovers to create woven works of art.

Credit: Joan Carrigan

For most people travelling in the South Pacific, “paradise” is what you find at the beach, away from the locals. Joan Carrigan, on the other hand, met her destiny while watching a Fijian woman carefully weave prepared pandanus leaves into a traditional mat. Later, in Australia, she viewed an exhibit on contemporary baskets designed like sculptures.

“That really clinched it for me,” she says of her passion for basket weaving, which perfectly melds her love of fine art and cultural traditions with her penchant for working with her hands. For almost 20 years now, the Salt Spring Island artisan and teacher has transformed local materials, such as cedar and willow bark, gathered from scrap left behind by forestry operations, or harvested from plants that will regenerate naturally, into woven works of art.

Available at

Crafthouse Gallery

on Granville Island
1386 Cartwright St, Vancouver

“It’s important for me to be innovative, to try and use the materials in new ways,” Carrigan explains. “It’s really about the materials for me. Can I stitch it or cut it into strips? Does it curl? I want you to see the materials in the basket.” Her dramatic creations are often vases with a Japanese esthetic, ranging in price from $100 to $400.

Visit Joan Carrigan online: www.joancarrigan.com.