To call Tavel, France, “romantic” doesn’t begin to do justice to this lushly scenic region in the southern part of the country. For hundreds of years, the area has been synonymous with rosé, the blush-colored wine characteristic of the Rhone valley in which Tavel is situated. It is against this redolent backdrop that basket maker Blaise Cayol maintains a centuries-old practice of weaving wicker baskets—an art form that flourished for generations of craftsmen, but largely died out after the Second World War.
Prior to making baskets, Cayol had studied graphic design, learning the hands-on skills. With the entry of computers and software that eliminated many of the hands-on skill sets, Cayol left the world of graphic design to start a new adventure. “…I didn’t know exactly what, but making something with as few tools as possible—just a knife. To make something simple, for daily use…ultimately to be humble,” said in an interview for Home & Corner. That humble venture became basket making.
Baskets incorporate all natural materials, gathered from locally grown plants. Their simple beauty belies the intense level of skill needed to perfect the craft, and Blaise has visited master basket makers throughout France to fine-tune his technique. It is hard to think of something more practical and useful than a basket, but that doesn’t mean this quintessentially utilitarian item can’t be crafted with exquisite care and attention to detail. Blaise’s range of baskets includes wide, open-mouthed vessels, and also smaller, more tightly woven baskets with arched handles.
He says of his work, “I have always wished to do an activity which could bring me closer to the earth, which is simple, useful, and ordinary.” It is difficult to look at Blaise’s baskets and think of the word “ordinary,” since each basket is clearly made with such care. Combining timeless visual appeal with the highest standards of craftsmanship, a Blaise Cayol basket is made to be treasured and put to use.
The International Folk Art Market will take place in Sant Fe, New Mexico from July 12-14, 2019. For more information please visit www.folkartmarket.org.This story first appeared in in IFAM Stories, to view please visit: http://ifamstories.org/artists/blaise-cayol/