Martha Monson Lowe incorporates rattan, seagrass, driftwood, and vine into the beautiful rattan baskets she crafts at her Decorah, IA studio. Interested in achieving a natural, timeless quality, the artist creates her work – weaving with wet materials – keeping ancient traditions in mind. She draws on time spent living in Africa and is especially interested in clay vessel forms – her husband is the potter George Lowe. “I am intrigued with design, taking traditional baskets and expanding them beyond mere function,” states Martha. “Many of my signature pieces include incorporation of driftwood as a handle to the basket. These ‘Chelan Baskets’ are named for the lake from which the driftwood is gathered.”
Martha weaves with materials that are wetted for pliability. She uses plaiting, twill weave, three and four rod wale, plain and continuous weave and twining techniques. When finished, her baskets are dyed with pigments derived from walnuts she gathers near her home.
Martha has been making baskets since the late 1980s. Largely self-taught, she explains, “I have expanded my weaving abilities through teaching hundreds of basket weaving students through the years,” most recently at Luther College in Decorah.