Toni Best

Toni Best Baskets

"Learning basketry in the eighth grade, I have progressed from more standard symmetrical pieces to those that are "outside the box." As a retired musician, I have found that as I coil, I hear music which I transfer to my coils with movement and undulations. Each piece has a part of my soul and heart, which I give to the viewer."

Having woven baskets for over sixty years, Toni Best feels that basketry is part of her being. When playing music, she felt that creating musicality and beauty were the most important things in her performance. Now she takes this musicality and imagination and transfers it into her basket and gourd creations. She embraces the Native American idea of "listening to the basket," a sentiment that is foremost in her work.

Most of Best's baskets start with a gourd base, so selecting a gourd that "speaks" to her is most important. Visualizing the cut of the gourd and the future color can take weeks. Selecting a fiber or thread by color and size helps to create the entire piece. The southern pine needles in the baskets create movement due to their suppleness. The basket tells Best which way to proceed.

Toni Best learned pine needle basketry from an elderly woman in North Carolina. She has taken workshops from Flo Hoppe, Don Weeke, Sue Coleman, Jill Choate, Lois Rainwater, and Elizabeth Whyte Schulze. Her Master of Music degree in classical organ performance from Syracuse University has added the joy of movement which she transfers into her basketry.

Selected Exhibitions & Awards
Baskets and Gourds - Containers of our Culture, Arts Visalia, Visalia, CA, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018
All Things Considered VIII - National Basketry Organization, St. Paul. MN and Fruitlands Museum, St. Paul, MN and Harvard MA, 2015
Basketry Now National Basketry Organization, Museum Western KY University, BOwling Green, KY, 2019
The Playa Mixed Media - Convergence, Handweavers Guild of America, Reno, NV, 2018
Great Basin Basketry Exhibit - Convergence - Handweavers Guild of America, Reno, NV, 2018