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An age-old tradition

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Seven women gathered Oct. 19 at the Cedar Key Arts Center to learn about traditional Florida pine needle basket making from instructor Diane Moore, of Lake Helen.

Moore said Native Americans in Florida passed the craft on to many of the settlers, who, like the natives, used baskets for storage devices in their everyday chores.

"It's a dying art, and we want to restore a little heritage," Moore said.

One of the day's participants, Donna Bushnell, of Chiefland, said Friday was her first attempt at making a basket. She said she was attracted to the craft because of the availability of materials, and because it's environmentally friendly.

Grace Savage, another participant, said it's fun to go out and collect the needles—which grow on the Southern long leaf pine.

"And it's relaxing," she said.

Friday's basket makers spent about six hours on their projects, using a coil method—rather than weaving— to stack bunches of needles tied with synthetic sinew.

Moore said she makes it out to Cedar Key a couple times a year to teach the class. Contact her at FloridaBaskets@gmail.com for more information. Or check out her website at www.SouthernPineStudio.com.