Stephen Zeh & Tamberlaine

Stephen Zeh, Basketmaker

The baskets I make are from brown ash trees which I find in the northern Maine forests. In my work I use the tools (drawknife, shaving horse, ax, froe, hornbeam maul, knife) and methods (hand-splitting, pounding, hand-scraping, carving, green-bending) of the Maine woodsmen, Shakers, and Native American basketmakers.

I learned to make baskets during years spent on the trapline in the Maine woods. Later Eddie Newell, a Penobscot Indian basketmaker, taught me many things about the art of basketmaking. The wood I use, brown ash, has beautiful, subtle tones. Hand scraping enhances and brings out the beauty and natural sheen of the wood. The pliant quality of the brown ash makes working the form and detail of my baskets possible, both in the weaving, and in the hand-carved rims and handles.

Tamberlaine Zeh, Woven Gold & Platinum Jewelry

Weaving gold and platinum is a reflection of the baskets my husband, Stephen, and I have woven for years. Each piece expresses my desire for beauty and function, and how it complements the character and style of the one who wears it.

Our jewelry work began when we made tiny buckles for our miniature baskets. We hand crafted them by forging small pieces of brass. We then learned that we could draw gold and silver into fine strands to weave into tiny baskets of gold.

The designs are influenced by the baskets and craftsmanship of years gone by. The radiating weave of a round basket bottom became the sunburst series of earrings and necklaces. The twelve and six strand weaves are reminiscent of the braided reins I made for my horses. The hand forged facets from hammer blows recall my grandfather’s forge at his farm in Maine.

Every piece we create is hand fabricated.

The work begins with melting gold or platinum, pouring to form an ingot, then forging, rolling, and drawing it into fine wire. Intricate pieces are shaped and the edges bright cut to reflect light from within the piece. Fine, pliant strands of 22k gold or platinum are interwoven into a basket form. Forging 18k gold or platinum strengthens it as it is shaped into rims, backs and settings for gems.

Together, Stephen and I are the only ones who work on our baskets and jewelry. Each piece is made by hand – one at a time.