“I enjoyed the beginning, middle and end product,” Ashton said. “I started weaving, retired and moved to Anniston. I’ve now been weaving for about 17 or 18 years.”
After arriving in Anniston, Ashton started teaching several basket weaving classes at Jacksonville State University. She slowly began to connect with fellow weavers and eventually formed the Dixie Weavers Basketry Guild. Ashton is currently president of the 17-member guild that meets twice a month at Cane Creek Community Gardens and leads four classes a year to anyone with a desire to learn the ancient craft.
“Basket weaving dates back tens of thousands of years. It even predates pottery.” Ashton said. “Your basic basket can be done in a day.”
Ashton enjoys using the baskets she makes as functional pieces of art to decorate her home. However, a unique part of her craft is that instead of selling her baskets, she gives them to friends and family as gifts.
“It’s more meaningful to them if they know I don’t sell it,” Ashton said. “Otherwise, they will think I am just pulling it out of my inventory.”
Ashton has found a joy in teaching her craft to beginners and helping them to appreciate the creation process that she discovered in that class in Georgia 18 years ago.
“I love it — just to see the light in someone’s eyes,” Ashton said. “They get so excited that they’ve made something.”
The guild’s next fundraiser, a basket-weaving workshop sponsored by Anniston’s Museum of Natural History, will be at Longleaf Botanical Gardens on Saturday, Aug. 10, where participants will receive step-by-step instructions on the basics of basket weaving.
“Once you make a basket, you’ll never buy one again,” Ashton said.