Fuegian Coiling

At the Northwest Basket Weavers winter retreat, one of the workshops I taught was a technique known as Fuegian coiling, which is basically simple looping over a core element.

Fuegian coiling samples by Donna Kallner.

I picked up the technique (including its name) from Osma Gallinger Tod’s book Earth Basketry. Over the years I’ve applied the concept to materials ranging from bark and cordage to velvet and satin cores. Definitely not traditional — but then, it’s hard to find much information about the basketry traditions of Tierra del Fuego and the Fuegian culture area. And I’ve never had the opportunity to travel to the southernmost tip of South America.

Baskets in museum in Tierra del Fuego photo by Jeannie Averbeck.

So I really appreciate when someone who has visited sorts through travel photos and sends some to me to share with others. It’s even better when that someone sees through a basketmaker’s eyes.

These photos are from Jeannie Averbeck. The image above is one she took in a museum.

This is from the marketplace in Punta Arenas, Chile.

That’s where Jeannie met Carolina, a basketmaker…

…and snapped this picture in Carolina’s market booth….

…and purchased this small basket worked in the technique Osma Gallinger Tod identified as Fuegian coiling.

Fuegian coiling produces a looser structure than other indigenous coiling traditions, at least in my experience. From my reading, I have assumed this is because these nomads kept fewer material goods, and since they didn’t expect them to last as long they chose faster techniques to make what they needed when they needed it from materials on hand at the time. This would help explain why there are fewer examples of Fuegian coiling cataloged in digital museum collections.

If you’re googling, you might include include as search terms “Yaghan”, “Yamana” and “Ona”. That led me to a post not directly related to basketry but definitely worth a read: http://indigenousboats.blogspot.com/2011/01/yamana-bark-canoe.html

Thank you, Jeannie, for sharing these images!

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin