Stephen Zeh, Basketmaker

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Sweetgrass Trays

Sweetgrass Trays
& Quadrifoil

Sweetgrass Trays

The sweetgrass trays have a bundle of tightly lashed sweetgrass that encloses the outer rim and footer of the basket. It acts as a cushioned "bumper" to protect the edges and bottom. We have seen several antique baskets made in this manner by the Indian basketmakers of Maine.

The sweetgrass adds a decorative touch, being a beautiful fresh green on a newly woven basket, gradually turning a blond straw color that blends beautifully with the basket. The sweetgrass will keep its aromatic fragrance for many years, releasing it when lightly squeezed. When the weather is humid it smells especially wonderful. We have known baskets that still have the sweetgrass aroma after one hundred years.

These are wonderful works of art that can be enjoyed every day.

The Sweetgrass Flower Basket is a joy to bring into the garden to pick flowers or herbs.

The Writing and Letter Trays were originally designed for a writer, but they also are wonderful as serving trays and to display for fruits from the orchard, a garden bounty, or fresh baked rolls and breads.


The quadrifoil (or quatrefoil) is an intricate and beautiful weave. This woven pattern resembles four part leaves or petals of a flower. It was used by the Shaker basketmakers in many of their finest baskets.

The center of the quadrifoil basket is begun as a rectangular twill. As the basket is turned into a circle the corners of the rectangle are formed into "feet" at the four corners. In weaving out to the circular sides the weave is worked into the quadrants of the quadrifoil.

The Shakers often wove this pattern into a tub shaped form with sides perpendicular to the bottom. I designed this basket in a platter form with sloping sides to best show the quadrifoil weave.

It can be displayed on a wall by means of a light monofilament line on the back or, standing lightly on its "feet", displayed on a table.