Baskets, Cultural Objects

John Harter Coiled Straw Basket

Maker/Creator: John Harter
1870s - 1890s
Black Ridge, Floyd

Rye straw with white oak lashing

  • Diameter (base):  6 inches
  • Diameter (rim):  11 inches
  • Height:  3 inches
  • Width of coils:  3/8 inch

This  shallow basket was used as a dough-raising tray. Rye straw roping was made by inserting straw into a funnel (possibly made from leather or the horn from a bull) and and twisting it into coils which were then lashed together with thin splits of white oak. The basket was woven from the bottom center outward, gradually widening the sides to the desired height.  Straw baskets worked well for bread making as  the dough did not cling to the slick surface.

coiling, basket, dough bowl, dough tray
Bio Sketch

John Harter (1825-1909) lost a leg in 1863 after being wounded during fighting at Chickamauga with Co. D., 54th Virginia Infantry.  He returned home and supported a growing family through his farming with additional income from building furniture, bottoming chairs, and making baskets. Descendants of the nine children born to John and his wife Harriett Howell Harter have preserved a number of his baskets.