Basket carvings for the catch

The standard catch on a handbag is simply an ivory or ebony pin that fits through two interlocking cane wrapped pieces of leather as shown in the first image.  I made the choice years ago ( I had seen this in several places) to orient the pin vertically instead of the more commonly seen horizontal direction.  Over the years I had heard so many women complain about how the pin (horizontal) constantly falls out and I also like the symmetry of the vertical orientation.  I adapted this idea to my full ivory catches as well as you can see below.

In the last few years, my students have gotten very inventive with different carvings to use as the closure.  Using rare earth magnets has enabled me to use a very wide range of carvings to make each basket a true one of a kind.





Nantucket Lightship Basket Carvings

  Carvings have been used on the top of hand bags since Jose Reyes popularized the handbag form of the Nantucket Basket in the late 1940's. Many customers and students also put carvings inside or on the side of their baskets. This is a great way to personalize a special gift. Carvings shown below are ivory, ebony, and other exotic hardwoods.  (Yes ivory is legal to buy and sell (inside the U.S..)) Woolly Mammoth ivory has become popular and can be used in place of elephant ivory.

For the top of a purse the most common carving from the era where this began is the sperm whale either in ivory or ebony but this is just the starting point.  There are endless possibilities to consider from the single carving, to a "seafood salad" collection of shells and sea life, to a one piece monogram, I have even seen a sperm whale tooth mounted on the top of a purse!   In addition to carvings on the top of the purse the front closure is a place where carvings can be used.

Carvings are also a great compliment to trays and open baskets as you will see below.

Carvings by Tim Parsons




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