Irving H Burnside Basket Maker
Irving H. Burnside (1892-1961), a widely respected amateur basket maker who summered on Nantucket from 1945 to 1961 and the mid 1920s duck hunted on the island . His work was represented in both the Summer 1994 NHA centennial Lightship Basket Exhibition and the inaugural exhibition of the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum.
Working with a full set of moulds purchased from the widow of a longtime Nantucket basket maker, Burnside produced dozens of baskets in all shapes and sizes, from shallow trays to waste baskets and bushel baskets, entirely for use within the family. A few baskets were given away, but they were not intended for sale in order to avoid competing with local weavers who made their living selling their baskets, and to this day most remain within the family. The only exception to this practice was his exhibition and limited sale of baskets at the American Craft Museum on West 53rd Street in New York City, across from MOMA. Of the two basket nests he made, one is now in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Among the elements that make Burnside's finely crafted baskets distinctive are his cross-wrapping on some rims, and the dark-stained rims and staves on many of his baskets. His fine craftsmanship extended to fashioning every component of the basket himself just as the original basket-makers had done, from turning the bottoms out of mahogany planks to fabricating the ears out of brass, creating the staves and rims, and carving, bending and shaping the handles. Irving decided to fill the hole(s) on the bottoms of his baskets with pieces of lite cream colored plastic to share as a reference to the 19th C. Nantucket tradition of when you paid off your mortgage, a home's newel post was drilled and a small piece of whale ivory was glued in.