The search for the perfect stocking to hang by the mantel leads to the Dresden & Company workshop on Main Street in America’s Basketmaking Capital of the World.
There, artisans are as busy as Santa’s helpers weaving Christmas Stocking Baskets. They are creating functional works of art that lead to exclamations of oohs and aahs even before they are filled with goodies. The stockings will appear on mantels throughout the U.S. in December.
For the second year in a row, the Stocking Basket leads D&Co.’s holiday lineup. To go along with our Cardinal Red Christmas Stocking Basket from last year, we have added stockings in Green and Ash Gray. Plus, we’re offering a Stocking Ornament that recreates the stocking in beautiful pewter detail, down to the exact number of splints.
While some people are back to buy more of the Stocking Baskets for new family members, others missed the debut last year and are happy to join the Stocking family. The Stocking Basket lineup is featured in an ad in American Farmhouse Style.
The story of how this amazing basket came to be bears repeating. It’s one of the workshop creativity and tenacity of Dresden & Company’s talented weavers and designers.
Manufacturing team members put their heads and hearts together to create the revolutionary Christmas Stocking Basket after a staff member said they would love a basket to hang on the fireplace mantels in their home.
“We are taking basketmaking to the next level, where it has never been before,” said Ann Freniere, who makes D&Co.’s prototype baskets and was instrumental in the Stocking Basket’s creation.
“We said, `Why can’t we weave a usable stocking?’ “ said Andy Wolfe, D&Co.’s director of product development and manufacturing. There were times where it seemed almost impossible.
Andy said the goal was to deliver a usable stocking that looked appealing and was reasonably priced. “So, our solutions had to be beautifully simple.”
Watch the time-lapse video of a weaver creating a Stocking Basket and the word “beautiful” springs to mind while “simple” seems wrong.
Andy pulled a Christmas stocking from his family’s decorations so the team could envision just what the basket should look like.
“To start, I carved some shapes out of rigid foam to get something to weave around to understand what all the challenges would be,” Andy explained. He refined the shape a few times to get the subtle curves of a stocking.
One of the first foam shapes looked more like a boot you’d wear with a broken foot. The final product has a little arch and flat sides to the sock and there’s even a bit of a curve on the calf, just like a regular stocking.
The Stocking Basket is like two baskets in one, which presented challenges to how to bring it to life on the weaving floor.
“We knew a standard weaving form would not solve the problem,” Andy said. Fall apart form or multiple forms? Which would work best? Andy said they pursued each option, always asking if the basketmakers could do this basket.
Andrew Silvia, who makes D&Co.’s weaving forms, said it was a definite challenge. Andy was tweaking the shape and Andrew was having to make a weaving form that makes two baskets. Andrew said the thought that “this was just not possible” would come up in the back of his mind along the journey, but then they would work through the next step and keep moving forward.
The basketmakers weave the Stocking Basket from the toe up and then from the calf down to the ankle. Bands join it together. With all they have going on, the weavers also work to keep the splints from each section aligned.
Once the weaver finishes the basket, the form comes apart in three pieces. They pull the stocking off one and then pull two pieces out of the toe.
Ann says the Stocking Basket combines several different weaving techniques into one basket. Shoestring weave for the toe, finishing at an angled band (at the ankle). Weaving backwards, weaving from the top of the calf down to the ankle.
“Because these are techniques we have done in the past, it has been surprisingly easy to teach the basketmakers how to make the basket,” she said. Once the entire process is explained, they are off and weaving.
Andy said Ann, D&Co.’s first weaver, loves being involved in the creative process. “Without her, we would have never been able to create this basket,” he said.
“We are all proud of what we have been able to create. This is truly something that has not been done before.”
And these works of art are hanging on mantels across the country this Christmas and will become a tradition for many more Christmases.
Click here to see a time-lapse video of our beautiful Christmas Stocking being woven by one of our skilled artisans.