Henry Nieland's Willow Baskets

Henry Nieland was well known for the fine willow baskets he made for everyday use around the house and farm. Lorraine Starman remembers that she and her mother used them to gather eggs.

This photo of one of Henry's baskets was taken by Kay Davis. According to Kay, "he would make them in the spring as he prepared for the year of gardening. They were used for all kinds of household tasks before we all had grocery sacks to recycle. You can get an idea of the size from the apples, but it measures 10 inches high and the oval shape is 12 1/2 by 14 or so. I think it's made of willow, with maybe the handle of another wood, maybe hazel nut. Those materials would be found in the same kind of wet places in the Iowa countryside.

When I was a girl, this was on a hook in Grandma Wittry's wash house. What a treasure trove that was for a curious kid! Grandpa Wittry had tools and woodworking stuff down at the office basement or in the garage, so the wash house just had storage for the house. I remember the smell of apples wrapped in catalogue pages for storage and the Hoosier cabinet in the corner, with the flour bin and the sugar sifter still in it."


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