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FEATURED ARTIST: Pamela Zimmerman

2011 October 20

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This was the most unusual crop of entries $2 Art Contest yet.  I review lots of paintings, sketches, mixed media & photos.  This month I reviewed woven metal, furnishings, installations, screen printing and fiber art.  None of those media is necessarily unusual, but getting them all in one month was unexpected.

I love textiles and texture.  I’m one of those nuts that has shelves and shelves of fabric for absolutely no valid reason other than I loved it enough to bring it home with me.  Everything I know about basket weaving, which isn’t much, I learned from a kit I bought at Piece Goods in 9th grade.  So how do I review fiber work and weaving?

I need the guts of it all.
The how of it all is very important,
but the why is what I really want to know.


"Catching the Pale, Pale Moon" by Fiber Artist Pamela ZimmermanThe Featured Artist chosen from the September entries is Pamela Zimmerman.  Her work made me stop and wonder HOW is this done?  What is the story behind THIS piece.  I just kept going back to the work and zooming in to inspect the details.  In the end, the same intricacy that usually speaks to delicacy left me with a sense of warmth and strength that I just could not dismiss.  This month, all my eggs are going in Zimmerman’s basket.

Pamela Zimmerman

Zimmerman was a National Park Ranger, and lived and worked close to nature. Living in the desert Southwest, she admired the native basketry in that area. She was  intrigued by the notion of making “something from nothing.”  In the late winter of 1998, she began weaving baskets from her garden.  The pine needles in her yard were short and twisted, but her first basket was enough “like a basket” to keep her going.

Soon she realized many materials from the woods and roadsides could be woven.  Some very tolerant neighbors (and strangers, too) allowed gathering of dying leaves from their yards with which to experiment.  Storm-downed trees yielded green needles, bark, or roots with which to weave.  Not all of the fibers worked out in that weaving adventure; but finding and trying new materials is all part of the fun of basket making.

"Catching the Moon: Celebration" by Fiber Artist Pamela ZimmermanIt wasn’t long before Pamela began to execute the miniature basket,  and she has developed her own techniques for working with horsehair.

“Coiling and twining are acknowledged as time consuming and thought by many to be tedious.
I find these processes contemplative, meditative, thought-ordering.

“Frustration is usually easily set aside, because there is always another project in the wings, beckoning, when one does not bear fruit.  It is also easy to forgive oneself for a basket turning out different than one had  envisioned, or conceived… so much easier to live with than the complexities of  dealing with people.  Most of my weaving is about making things  work.”

What do you consider  your media?  Do you primarily consider yourself a fiber artist or a basket weaver?  “I consider  myself a fiber artist who primarily uses basketry techniques.  I am constantly exploring new techniques and media to incorporate into my fiber art,  not all of them relate to basketry.  I also consider myself a basket MAKER – because I sometimes use  materials that I gather and process myself, and make them into  original baskets… making something from nothing.  Basket WEAVING, to  me, is when materials are prepared by someone else, or when the basket is  not of one’s own design.”  

"Waiting" by Fiber Artist Pamela ZimmermanClearly, there is a  clear aesthetic voice to your work.  But I want to hear about your point of view.  “I  generally do not try to work on a focused theme, but I find there are ones that  repeat in my work. They speak, I think, to my role as a  mother.  Birth, rebirth, cocooning,  transition, transformation, metamorphosis, emergence, change, and perspectives on these processes often are apparent.

“At my house, we try to make ourselves understand and live within society’s  rules.  It is a struggle from waking to sleeping, and we must find ways to adapt and learn, despite our differences, and fit into something which looks like normalcy.  It is hard to deal with, day in and day out.

Weaving is the escape.
Art is the place where there is no need
to do what someone else thinks is right.


"To the Sky" by Fiber Artist Pamela Zimmerman“I use the problem-solving skills that I have needed for survival throughout my whole life,  learning to adapt in a world that does not make sense, and the fiber responds silently, there is no yelling…the harshest penalty is loss of material.  I can almost always go back, something I cannot do when dealing with people.”

You know we have to talk about food, and I am always delighted when someone can’t give me a one-word answer to the favorite food question: “I love to try new  foods, and gravitate towards spicy and creamy, like Mexican with a lot of  cheese, and fettucini alfredo with hot peppers on top!

"Catching the Moon When the Deep Purple Falls" by Fiber Artist Pamela Zimmerman!But when it comes to every day eating, salads with feta cheese and olives topped with hummus and  plain yogurt.  And, being a Texan by birth, I love a good steak, and I NEVER  seem to be able to resist mushrooms, in any form.”  Make room for me, Pamela.  I’m movin’ in, ha.

So, what’s coming up next for you? “I enjoy teaching, and interacting with the online community.  I would like to teach more, and as my children grow, I am beginning to.  A book about horsehair coiling has been in the works now for several years.  Other than that,  I will keep weaving what I want to – of course there are more “moon” pieces in  the works.”

Thank you, Pamela Zimmerman for reminding me for the need for contemplative, introspective silent work…with voice.  I am inspired to never be the person that that tries to make you fit, and I am on winter hiatus from yelling, I promise.  You’re a good egg!

Learn more about Pamela Zimmerman online!

Learn more about Fiber Artist Pamela Zimmerman!


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78 Responses
  1. sue cowell permalink
    October 21, 2011

    I am the VERY proud owner of two of Pamela’s baskets. One is a lidded basket made of pine needles, featuring one of her molded faces; and one is made of horsehair, with an adornment of another horsehair basket so tiny it would fit on half of a pinky fingernail! I am constantly amazed at the creativity and skill of this gifted woman. She has inspired a whole new generation of basketmakers. Lead on Pamela!!! We can’t wait to see what you create next!!

  2. October 21, 2011

    Pamela’s work is a great inspiration. I really admire her work and am so glad she is getting recognized for her genius!

  3. Karyl Jo Hartsog permalink
    October 21, 2011

    You continue to surprise and inspire! Your unique creations cause me to keep learning and trying new things. I love your work!

  4. October 21, 2011

    What a wonderful piece about Pam. I am on the etteam with her on etsy and this really helped me to get to know her better. So well written. I really enjoyed it.

    Kathy from Hattie Designs

  5. October 21, 2011

    Pamela does such intricate and beautiful work. Her attention to detail is incredible. I really like the comment about her being a basket MAKER vs. weaver, because her work is truly one of a kind and they are stunning creations.

  6. October 22, 2011

    Pamela does some amazing work…..Beautiful detail which is unusual and inspirational. What talent she possesses!

  7. Sue Mansfield permalink
    October 22, 2011

    Thanks for recognizing Pamela, her work, inspirations and methods of working. She’s inspirational, a diligent basket maker, and an excellent teacher. I admire her attention to detail and her beautiful baskets and am proud to be the owner of several of her pieces. This article can help others see the beauty in nature and how slow, painstaking work benefits the artist.

  8. Jackie Kambak permalink
    October 22, 2011

    Your art was wonderful to see and hard to imagine making.
    Thanks so much for sharing with those of us who can’t do, but really enjoy seeing the projects.

    Jackie Kambak

  9. October 22, 2011

    I remember the first time I found Pamela’s website, I was totally in awe! So nice to read about her process and progress!

  10. Eve Elliott permalink
    October 22, 2011

    Pamela is an inspiration to anyone who weaves with natural fibers. There are no ‘Weaving Police’ and her work sort of makes beginners like me to be o.k. with weaving with palm fronds and philodendron sheaths.

  11. October 22, 2011

    Thanks for sharing information about this spectacular tribute to your work. I agree with the numerous expressions of admiration from previous viewers. It is, indeed a privilege to be connected to you and your art through the Natural Fibers Group!

  12. October 23, 2011

    Pamela is a true artisan, and has inspired me a lot. She is very gifted and does not mind sharing her ideas and works with others.

  13. Lisa Nelick permalink
    October 23, 2011

    Great Article! Many gems of wisdom to share and much self reflection is evident in both the words and the works of Pamela Aimmerman. She is a true artist with a scope that encircles so much from the miniscule to the giant, from the traditional to the totally unexpected. I loved reading this engrossing and enlightening piece. Many thanks for putting it together with the beautiful photos of her work!!!

  14. Denise McDonald permalink
    October 24, 2011

    Our family is privileged to own several of Pamela’s baskets/art pieces, and her work continues to delight and amaze us. Her work is like nature, in many ways. It is beautiful and invites one to look closer, only to find that there is a message within the beauty and detail of each piece. Keep up the great work, Pamela!

    Denise McDonald

  15. Jan Henry permalink
    October 24, 2011

    I’ve always loved your baskets. They are very creative and speak to me.

  16. Kay Harradine permalink
    October 24, 2011

    It has been fun watching Pamela’s basketry change and progress over time. She also has authored an exceptional website regarding Pine Needle basketry – very comprehensive and well done. Congratulations Pamela.

  17. October 25, 2011

    Pamela, I enjoyed this article about you and your wonderful works of art. I have followed your work for a long time now.
    Kaye Burlason

  18. October 25, 2011

    Pamela takes basketry to a new level!

  19. Travis McDonald permalink
    October 26, 2011

    What fantastical woven pieces. Pamela Zimmerman clearly puts her soul into her work. Great stuff!

  20. October 26, 2011

    Fantastic article featuring Pam and her exquisite fiber artwork. Her baskets and art are so unique I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like them. I also happen to know and relate to her therapeutic methods of artistry, and understand perfectly when she mentions her art as being contemplative, meditative and thought ordering, especially within the parameters that we all live with daily in our lives.

    Kudos to Pamela and her beautiful baskets and art work. It is a true artist that can make something from nothing.

  21. October 26, 2011

    What an inspiring article. Pamela’s work provides an impetus for all creative people to always put forth their very best effort. Nesting the routine aspects into an overall contemplative mode is key.

  22. October 29, 2011

    A fantastic article, I really appreciate learning about artist’s inner thought processes as they design, create, and produce. Pamela’s artistry is truly amazing!

  23. Elaine permalink
    October 31, 2011

    I’ve seen Pamela’s work on the pineneedle website and newsletter for years. It is so inspiring! – not to mention beautiful and intriguing. I am sure Pamela has a private stroy behind each of her works and I like to imagine my own – usually myths or fairytales about each.

  24. November 6, 2011

    One of the greatest moments back at the beginning of my career was when Pamela praised on of my baskets!! She is such an inspiration to all of us and we have learned so much from her. A treasure she is!!

  25. H Rios permalink
    December 30, 2011


  26. December 31, 2011

    Beautiful creations Pamela! I love the way you think outside of the box. I look forward to seeing your future work.

  27. Frank Zimmerman permalink
    January 8, 2012

    Extremely proud of you,my darling daughter. You are inspiring many people. Keep up your outstanding work. Love, Dad

  28. Patty Allen permalink
    January 28, 2012

    I am extremely proud of Pam’s work. She has a wonderful eye for
    natural beauty. I treasure the basket I have from her. Thanks for
    recognizing her artistic talents.

Comments are closed.