Cynthia Killgore

Mixed Media / New Iberia, LA


A basket begins with a tiny coil called a worm. From this wee beginning an adventure unfolds. It is always a mystery story that builds until it ends. The most common questions is, 'How long did it take to make?' The answer is, 'As long as it took!' The process is time consuming, but I never watch the clock. I find the process soothing to the mind and spirit, much like meditation. The work brings a great deal of personal satisfaction and inner peace to me.

The needles of the long leaf pine and the long, strong fibers of the raffia palm are the basic raw materials used to make pine needle baskets. Although the needles from any variety of pine may be used, I prefer the long leaf. Pine needles can be harvested green in the summer months and dried, or they can be gathered from the ground in the fall when they have turned a golden brown. Commercial dyes may be used to achieve a variety of colors, but I usually prefer the natural color. Raffia is a natural fiber that comes from a palm tree that grows in Madagascar. Raffia is the color of linen. It may be dyed also. A long sharp sewing needle is used to bind the continuous coil of pine needles using the raffia. Practice helps develop the feel for feeding the coil, or adding more needles to keep the coil going. Baskets may be adorned with beads, bones, sculptures, and other odd bits. Ideas come from everywhere. We need only be aware of the world that surrounds us to be inspired.


I am a transplant from North Louisiana living in New Iberia since 1985. I have been interested in crafting all of my life, thanks to my grandmother. With a degree in art education from Louisiana Tech, I taught in Louisiana public schools for 25 years. I retired in 2007. For the last 10 years of my teaching career, I taught art to high school students. In the coursework of a class that I designed, I was able to include pine needle basketry as well as other fine crafts. I learned the art of working with pine needles from Andrea Thompson, a Mississippi artist, who instructed a series of workshops at the public library. After about 4 years of constant practice, I had my first showing in my home town for an arts festival. I was encouraged to display my baskets the following fall at the Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette. Over the years I have done demonstrations, taught workshops, and exhibited my basketwork in galleries and craft shows. I achieved the level of Master Artisan in the Louisiana Crafts Guild in 2008