2004 LeRoy Graber - German-Russian Willow Basketry

Master: LeRoy Graber, Freeman
Helen Wuertzer, Parkston
Michelle Wuertzer, Parkston
Art Form: German-Russian willow basketry

German-Russian willow basket maker LeRoy Graber from Freeman worked with two apprentices from Parkston, Helen Wuertzer and her daughter-in-law Michelle Wuertzer. LeRoy is a well-known South Dakota traditional artist who has taught a number of apprentices over the years in both South and North Dakota. He first met the Wuertzer family when they heard he was looking for basket willows and suggested he come look at the stands of willows growing on their property along the James River. A friendship developed and the Wuertzers were then able to formalize an apprenticeship with LeRoy, since they have a long-standing interest in willow basketry. Helen’s husband Larry also joined the work sessions and made several baskets himself.

Larry Wuertzer, LeRoy Graber, Michelle Wuertzer and Helen Wuertzer with baskets they made during the apprenticeship.

Two men stand at left of two women each holding willow baskets.