The Artist Working To Revive A Traditional Appalachian Craft


handwoven Appalachian-style basket

Photo: Courtesy Amy Krone

Deep in New York State’s Catskill Mountains, the woods take over, enveloping the senses with the crunch of fallen leaves and the scent of pine sap. For artist Amy Krone, this forest, in many ways, is her studio. Its native white oaks bestowing the raw materials and inspiration for Cambium Lost Arts—her collection of handwoven Appalachian-style baskets.

After a decade immersed in corporate graphic design, Krone itched for something tactile and found her calling in the poetry of traditional Appalachian basketry. She was especially intrigued by the generations of artisans who invented forms purpose- built for what they carried, such as round, shallow structures strong enough to hold potatoes.

“This intersection of form and function spoke to me,” says Krone. Her approach interpolates these historic designs “into something more modern but still useful, complementing organic shapes with the geometric.” Think arching crescents and half-moons fused with wood salvaged from nearby streams, or angular vessels with deep bellies. White oak—the same wood Appalachian basket makers used for centuries—proves ideal for experimentation “because it cuts clean, so you can get really sharp forms.”

Construction-wise, Krone sticks to old-fashioned techniques. She sustainably cuts down each white oak by hand from her 124-acre property, only culling from overgrown areas. Then she painstakingly segments and splits the green logs into thin strips, armed only with an ax, knife and maul. Thicker pieces build the basket’s ribbed frame, while thinner ribbons become weavers. From here, the artist plays, sometimes adding ash or maple to flesh out the body or dyeing strips with botanicals grown on her farm.

But, for its graceful pliability and honeyed tone, white oak remains the foundation of her practice—alongside the place that nurtures her creativity. “I feel a communion with something greater than myself when I’m in the forest,” shares Krone. “Finding meaning in my art through these woods is a gift the land has given me.”