Bennett, Mary Jane
Basketmaker from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Mary Jane and husband Jessie come from a long line of basketmakers. Mary Jane would make trips to Charleston as a young girl to deliver her mother's baskets, and remembers people drawing the style they wanted on paper. She would take the drawings back to her mother, who would study the drawing and then make the basket.
During the depression, Bennett's mother rarely made a basket for personal use. Everything made had to be sold.
Jessie Bennett was one of the few male basketmakers in an arena dominated by women. For years, Jessie made bottoms and placemats and focused on marketing the Bennett family baskets. He eventually made his first basket - a large market basket of sweetgrass, bulrush, and pine needle.
Regarding one of the job hazards, Mary Jane always put turpentine on her shoes when collecting sweetgrass to keep the snakes away. She "just had to hope they didn't run toward me instead of away."
Audio (View Transcript)
Ancestry and heritage (02:24)
Other family members that weave (00:45)
Curing sweetgrass and bulrush (01:03)
Baskets from her youth (01:31)
Sell baskets at fairs and shows (00:51)
Video (View Transcript)
Basket styles (01:56)
Bennett instructing students (02:24)
Family usage (01:26)
The fanner basket (01:41)
Mother's influence (03:37)
"Low Country Basket Sewer" (03:03)