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Wetherbee returns: Lincoln Bicentennial basket set grows

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Local basket makers work with expert

By Linda Ireland

Twenty-five students with varying degrees of skill spent two days with nationally known basket maker Martha Wetherbee last week. They came away with greater knowledge of the craft and a one-of-a-kind souvenir of the Lincoln Bicentennial.

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Wetherbee and husband Alan Litchfield returned to Hodgenville Friday for the second workshop in a series of four that provided materials and instruction in creation of the “Lincoln Bicentennial Penny Basket” set.

Last year about 50 people signed up for the inaugural class to make a 4 1/2-inch lidded basket featuring the Lincoln birth cabin penny. The double-recessed lid contains a portion of Boundary Oak – the landmark tree from Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park.

This year, one person signed up to weave the first basket. The other students created the second 7-inch basket in the nesting set. It features the Indiana penny.

The baskets are woven with ash splints, extracted by the same technique used by pioneers during Lincoln’s youth.

Wetherbee said the bicentennial baskets have proven popular in Kentucky and adjoining states; however, they have not received much interest in northern states. She taught the workshop in Brown County, Indiana in April.

She divides her time between her homes in New Hampshire and Florida.

The workshop was organized by LaRue Countians Faye Puyear and Diane Bault who attended one of Wetherbee’s seminars a few years ago. They asked Wetherbee to bring the craft to Hodgenville.

Most of the students were from LaRue County and surrounding areas. Four women, self-described as the “Road Sisters” met at other Wetherbee seminars and travel around the country taking her classes.

The class was held at the LaRue County Extension Service office.

A third workshop is scheduled for June 2011.