Woven Thresholds is a collaborative project that applies the ancient craft of willow basketry to the weaving of what we're calling "threshold vessels" — that is, burial baskets, cradles, and willow baskets. All of the weaving materials are gathered from uncultivated lands or gathered from willow patches with varieties grown for weaving. This project brings communities into an intimate relationship with life, death, and beauty while also creating a collective, small-scale weaving practice that contributes to a solidarity economy where purpose outweighs profit. Following an apprenticeship with established Irish coffin weaver, Woven Thresholds was born from the desire to rebuild a culture of reciprocity with the Earth, crafting humans into a closer relationship with the integral cycles of birth and death.
There exists a massive industry producing commodities around such human experiences as birth and death. Corporate greed leaves families with the burden of unaffordable vessels that also poison the earth, or an endless supply of baby-junk that's mass-produced, devoid of story, and reliant upon exploitative labor across the globe. Woven Thresholds is a response to the inert, extractive, and sterile over-culture, re-imagining instead a collaborative, healing pathway for some of our choices around birth and death.
Woven Thresholds is collaborative on several levels: working with the land where the willows are grown and harvested for weaving; creating a network of craftspeople and artists, midwives and doulas of both birth and death, home and natural burial advocates, burial conservation alliances, and of course the communities that experience threshold from the inside out. A small seed to plant with with the long vision for any community is that birth and death are returned to the hearts and hands of the people who experience them and the more immediate outcome of sharing the ancestral craft of weaving as a vessel for all life.-
Woven Thresholds is the vision of interdisciplinary artist Maureen Walrath. Maureen is a weaver, farmer, visual artist, and student midwife. She learned to weave willow baskets in the Coast Range of Oregon, connecting her craft with the life of plants; learning about the willows, their growing patterns, harvesting and curing the plant for weaving and teaching others to weave. Her weaving brought her to her ancestral lands of Ireland where she studied coffin weaving on the North Atlantic Coast of the island.