Published On: Wed, Mar 5th, 2014

Basket master shares weaving skills in class

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Arbovale resident and basketmaker Margie Sue Sparks, center, taught a class through Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School last week. Here, she assists Sarah Madison as Karen Weadon focuses on weaving her basket. S. Stewart photo

Arbovale resident and basketmaker Margie Sue Sparks, center, taught a class through Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School last week. Here, she assists Sarah Madison as Karen Weadon focuses on weaving her basket. S. Stewart photo

When you talk about handmade baskets in the Pocahontas County, most people think of Margie Sue Sparks, of Arbovale.

Sparks got her start with basketmaking like many of her students – by taking a class.

“The first one I did was probably in 1982,” she said. “This girl came to the library. She taught egg baskets. Then I got interested. I ordered a kit and kind of taught myself.”

As Sparks honed her skills and expanded on the types of baskets she made, she also expanded into teaching classes through Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation.

“I can’t remember what year I started teaching, but I know Lauren’s [Bennett, Parks & Rec director] kids were young. I remember the night of one class, Lauren called me and said she couldn’t make it to the class because she was going into labor with Kevin,” Sparks recalled, laughing. “I told her not to worry, the class would be fine.”

Her latest class was held at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School where students learned to make a tote basket.

Six students, in a range of ages, occupations and backgrounds came together to learn how to take simple materials and make a beautiful basket.

Sparks said she would continue to teach as long as there are students with an interest to learn.

For class availability, contact Parks & Rec at 304-799-7386.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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