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White Oak Gathering

The White Oak Gathering celebrates the basketmaking traditions of Kentucky and the Southeast. Bringing together makers from across the Southern states, the Kentucky Museum welcomes the public to Meet the Makers Day as they process a white oak tree - from start of splitting to the finished basket product - and learn about this time-honored Kentucky tradition during our Meet the Makers Day.

Meet the Makers Day

August 22, 2024 from 12:30 to 3:30 pm CST

at the Kentucky Museum, 1444 Kentucky Street, Bowling Green, KY

for directions and parking information, click here

12:30 PM to 1:15 PM

"Meet the Collectors"

Discover lifelong maker and collector Beth Hester's life story as she gives audiences a tour of the newly-opened Hester-Gilbert exhibition. This exhibition features baskets collected by Hester and her partner, Scott Gilbert, during their lives as makers and world travelers. Hester will tell exciting stories about the baskets, including when and where they were collected and the basket makers behind each basket's remarkable construction and culture. 

1:15 PM to 2:00 PM

"Splitting the Tree"

Join maker Billy Smith for a demonstration of splitting a white oak log, starting with a one-half log. Smith will narrate the process of selecting, harvesting, and splitting white oak trees in the forests of Kentucky. Smith will discuss the various methods of splitting, from a 4-to-5-foot long log to splitting it into halves, quarters, and eighths until it has become thin splits.

2:00 PM to 2:45 PM

“Refining the Splits”

Micah Wiles will continue the presentation, refining splits created by Smith in preparation for basket making. Micah will narrate the process of trimming the edges and refining the splits to personal preference to achieve uniformity in the basket's look.

2:45 PM to 3:30 PM

"Basket Making"

Makers Mary Ann Smith and Vicki Hast will demonstrate taking the refined splits to make two different types of baskets. Mary Ann Smith will create an egg basket, while Vicki Hast creates a market basket. (Please note that some parts of the baskets may be pre-made to save demonstration time, but the makers will narrate these parts of the process.) 


Related Exhibitions

Hester-Gilbert Collection Exhibition - Folklife Gallery (2nd Floor)

Pop-Up Exhibition of Visiting Makers - Community Gallery (1st Floor)


Meet Our Makers


Beth Hester
Beth Hester
Scottsville, KY

Beth has been making baskets since 1975, initially experimenting with coiled work, an extension of her love of hand-sewing and constructing. Learning from Ollie and Lestel Childress and Leona Waddell she is honored to be a bearer of south central Kentucky’s white oak tradition. She has studied basketry with teachers from North America, Germany, France and Denmark and her most recent love is for willow—skeining as well as rod work. She co-curated, with Brent Bjorkman, Director of both the Kentucky Folklife Program and the Kentucky Museum, the exhibition ‘Standing the Test of Time: Kentucky’s White Oak Basket Traditions’ at the Kentucky Museum on the campus of Western Kentucky University.

Vicki Hast
Vicki Hast
Ohio County, KY

Vicki Hast is a basketmaker from Ohio County, KY, who specializes in willow basketry, gourd art, and natural fibers. She has been creating baskets for over two decades, and never tires of pairing natural materials with the creative process. “It is a joy,” explains Hast, “to take something from the land and transform it into this useful gathering basket.”


Mary Ann and Bill Smith
Mary Ann and Bill Smith
Eastern NC; formerly Birmingham, AL
Mary Ann and Bill Smith have been weaving white oak baskets and preparing their weaving materials from tree to splits for well over 25 years, first in Birmingham, Alabama, and now in eastern North Carolina. They were resident basket makers at Tannehill Historical State Park for over 15 years. They also taught at the John Campbell Folk School for 20 years,  Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, as well as at Arrowmont and the Alabama Folk School for several years, but retired from teaching in 2020
Micah Wiles
Micah Wiles
Somerset, KY
Micah Wiles is an agriculturalist and basket maker from Somerset, KY, who currently manages Cedar Creek Farm. Wiles first learned basketry while at college in North Carolina and continued his studies with makers in Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine, Romania, Ireland, and England. Wiles will present about his role as maker in a younger generation, addressing ideas for continuity, evolution, and creating connections with the global community.


Lynne Ferguson
Lynne Ferguson
Bowling Green, KY

Lynne Ferguson is an artist, folklorist, and retired Artist-in-Residence at the Kentucky Museum. Her works include acrylics, mixed media, willow wall hangings, and basketry. As a folklorist, Lynne will be mediating discussions between makers and audience members.

White Oak Gathering 2023 group

Makers from the White Oak Gathering 2023

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 Last Modified 4/3/24