ARTICLE & PHOTOS BY: Kali McCrackin Goodenough
Kim Shaver, owner of Wyoming Willow Baskets, first learned to weave willow baskets from her mother, a long-time weaver.
“My parents have a ranch in the Centennial Valley,” Kim says, her fingers working away on her latest basket. “It is right on the Little Laramie River so they have a ton of willows.”
Years ago, Kim’s mother took inspiration from the willows and decided she wanted to learn how to weave them. She passed on the art to Kim, who has kept up the tradition. Part of that tradition includes collecting willow branches in the winter.
“My dad and I pick willows all winter,” Kim says. “It is a nice time with my dad. We just have an appreciation for the willows. There are so many different colors.”
Each branch is full of its own unique collection of colors: reds, greens, yellows, browns, grey, black, and even hints of purple. No two branches are the same, creating beautifully unique baskets.
“You never know sometimes what the willow will start,” Kim says.
Wyoming Willow Baskets is a new business for Kim.
“I just started this business maybe half a year ago,” Kim says. “I’ve weaved for a really long time but I just started selling. I had a coffee shop and I sold it, so I just decided that weaving is what I wanted to do next.”
Unlike running her own coffee shop, this new business venture comes without the all the stress.
“Weaving is very relaxing,” she says. “And coming from your own business to just being able to do your own thing and not worry about it is really relaxing. I find weaving fun to do and I get really excited when I make a new basket.”
The shelves around her booth are full baskets large and small, some with beaver chew handles; some, like her wine baskets, with leather straps; and others, like her hanging bird houses, with no handles at all.
Kim started weaving bird houses in the winter before selling her coffee shop. When her basement had gained quite the collection of houses, she decided that maybe she would try to sell them.
“The Thursday Market seems like a really laid back, nice place, so I thought it would be the best place to see how it goes, to put my toes in the water,” she says.
So far, the market has been a fun place to get started, Kim says, her hanging bird houses catching people’s eye and drawing them in to see her beautiful work.
“I like to visit with people,” Kim says. “I think everyone is really nice here and they help each other.”
This week, stop by Kim’s booth to watch her weave, breathe in the fragrance of the willows, admire the beautiful baskets, and perhaps find one to take one home with you.