Sweetgrass baskets are many things in the Lowcountry. They are traditional, historical, cultural, beautiful, bittersweet and spiritual. Sweetgrass basket making was one tradition of the African culture brought to the South during slavery. The coiled basketry craft in the South, first appearing in the 17th century, was originally designed as a tool for planting and harvesting rice and cotton. These baskets were made of bulrush, sweetgrass and split oak. Bulrush, palm, and basketry were native to Africa, giving the African slaves a much needed connection to their homeland. During the late 1800’s, the sweetgrass baskets emerged from the rice and cotton fields and became useful in the home. As the baskets became a staple in the home, bulrush was replaced with sweetgrass as the primary material, because of its soft and finer qualities. Today the tradition of sweetgrass basketry remains in the Lowcountry, but only as long as the generations uphold this craft passed down from their ancestors.
At The Joggle Factory, we represent tradition, family and sustainability. We couldn’t be more humbled to introduce you to Jennifer Mazyck. Ms. Mazyck is a Mount Pleasant, SC native learning her basketry art from her Grandmother, Mother and Cousins. Ms. Mazyck travels to different Art shows to showcase her craft. We met Ms. Mazyck at the Bay Creek Art’s and Craft show on Edisto Island, SC. According to Ms. Mazyck, there are two basketry artists on the Island, and once her and her Aunt no longer come here, the tradition could be lost on Edisto Island forever. All of Ms. Mazycks baskets are completely handmade by her, taking her 12-14 hours per small basket. Each basket is different. There are no patterns for baskets, and each artist has their own style. Sometimes the baskets may take longer to make, because according to Ms. Mazyck, the basket coiling can be therapeutic and time is completely based on her mood. Not only are all of the baskets unique in shape and size, the colors will differ as well. Ms. Mazyck purchases her materials from men who harvest the sweetgrass, pine and palm in our coastal regions. The risk of encountering a snake or alligator keep her from harvesting the materials herself! (Can you blame her :)?). Once she has the materials, she dries each one differently to create different shades of brown, cream and tans. As you can see in her picture, she also dies some of the grasses to get beautiful hues of blues and reds. Each piece Ms. Mazyck offers is of the finest quality and absolute perfection.
We want to do our part to keep this cultural craft alive! We have partnered with Ms. Jennifer Mazyck to offer our customers a choice of a Sweetgrass Rose and 2 of her smaller size baskets. If you are interested in a different size or pattern, please let us know. We would love to expand our shop to offer more sizes and patterns.