May / June 2019 Newsletter
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.
Muhammad Ali
Dear Readers,

I just returned from teaching a 2-day workshop in Borrego Springs, California. The weather in the desert was sublime. There is truly something unique about the soft, dry, warm winds in the desert and the subtleties of the light as it plays on the distant mountains. Every evening the setting sun would highlight different layers of the hills, bringing out depths of crevices and colors that make me wish I had better skills as a painter so I could capture it on paper. The tall, thin, spindly sticks of the Ocotillo cactus which look dead during the dry months came to life in the recent rains. They were pumped full of moisture, covered with thick green leaves and topped with a brilliant red torch on the very tip of most stalks. Octotillo have always brought me a reverence for survival and renewal, and these red flame-tipped cactus were practically shouting in their glory.

My students were a blast, everyone did a great job and 3 students travelled from great distances for this workshop. I was honored to have a Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Elder from Conneticut come to learn my technique of basketry. Gail Rokotiubau, White Hair Smiling, is a sweetgrass, pine needle, and gourd basketmaker. Her grandmother was a basketmaker. She learned the art when she was 14 but did not continue with it. At that time she lacked the appreciation for the cultural importance of this ancient art and instead pursued painting and mosaics.

In 2017 she lost her mother, and 6 months later her son. She took up basketmaking as a form of grief therapy. It helped in her healing and at the age of 64 she discovered a renewed love and appreciation for basketry. She is the last sweetgrass and pine needle basketmaker with her tribal bloods. She is taking her role as elder and the last remaining tribal basketweaver very seriously and is active in teaching and passing along the tradition. I was truly honored that she travelled across the country to learn some basketry techniques from me. (Gail is seated next to me in the photo below).

I have been invited back to the Borrego Springs Art Institute to teach another 2-day workshop, which will most likely happen in January 2020. More information will be provided in a future newsletter.

As my readers know, last year I started playing the Native American Flute and many of you responded to my story of playing for a goose while I was camping by a lake. A friend sent me the following link of a Native American playing for woodland creatures who ventured out of the forest to hear him play. It's quite remarkable! Thought my readers might enjoy it. Click here to view.
I was recently contacted by a gentleman in Phenix City, Alabama, who learned how to basketweave through my videos. Bill is retired military and was a life-long woodworker. He developed a serious medical condition that causes extreme palsy, so severe he’s actually had several concussions from uncontrolled rapid head movements. The use of his hands and arms are severely affected and working with power tools was no longer a viable option. For many years he would joyfully do carpentry projects for his neighbors and he was deeply missing creating with his hands. Then his sister sent him both my basketweaving videos as a gift. He called me to share how life-altering my videos have been for him. Weaving baskets has dramatically reduced his hand tremors, he and his wife estimate about 75% better! He has become a basketweaving “addict”, finding it hard to put his work down. He said one day he realized he had been weaving for 17 hours! Another morning he realized it was 2 am and he had been at it all night. He is completely hooked. 

Bill wanted to share some comments about my videos…..”I am retired from the army. I was a drill sergeant instructor and the military sent me to an instructor course to train trainers. You (Nadine) instinctively have all the abilities that were taught in this specialized training, making it very easy to follow your instructions. I want to thank you for the dvd’s, they are precise and deliberate of your techniques, setting the followers up for success. Being disabled, I have found abilities and enjoyment that were lost. Your teaching technique has made my baskets the talk of the town and will soon be displayed in an art gallery.” 
Below are some images of Bill and his baskets (the top one is his first basket).
November 1-3
Whidbey Island, Washington

Coming up in the Fall students can come learn an amazing variety of techniques – I contact my students prior to class to inquire what they want to learn, and I tailor my instruction to each student’s interest. This workshop is perfect for both beginners and experienced coilers. Some of the techniques students can learn include how to coil a symmetrical basket around a stone, fancy stitches, how to create free-flowing sculptural pieces, how to coil around antlers or branches, how to coil on a gourd, Teneriffe, lids, footed bases, handles, beads between coils, and MUCH more!!!

The location is the Pacific Northwest School of Art in the darling town of Coupeville on Whidbey Island, a short shuttle/ferry ride from Seattle. Coupeville is a great place to spend a few days. If you can walk 1/2 mile, you can go just about anywhere in town, including walking to the art school! The local restaurants are superb and a culinary delight. Click here for full information.

July 27
Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum
Vista, California

Students will learn how to coil a delicate basket around a lovely polished stone. It's an easy way to start a basket and makes a beautiful center. Students will learn to coil so their stitches are identical on both sides of the basket. Pine needles and Irish waxed linen thread are provided, but the coiling technique can later be used to weave many other plant materials. 

Pine needle basketweaving is a wonderful way to recycle from the environment and it's a portable project - so you can take it anywhere to work on!

Click here for more info and to register (scroll to the bottom of the link for the basket class)


Workshops in Nadine's home (about 25 minutes north of San Diego in Olivenhain)
$60 plus $40 materials (optional). Time 10 am - 4 pm.

May 11
June 8
July 13
August 3
October 26
November 16
December 14

My home workshops are limited to 7 students, so everyone gets plenty of instruction. All skill levels welcome - beginners come to learn how to make a basket, and experienced coilers attend to take their skills into exciting new territory such as learning how to make Teneriffes, lids, footed bases, handles, beads between coils, creating patterns with sheaves, using objects with holes such as black walnut slices, how to create free-flowing sculptural pieces, and much more!! I will also teach how to coil on gourds (contact me so we can discuss before class). To inquire or register, email me at

The Southern California Handweavers’ Guild presents the annual Weaving and Fiber Festival on Sunday, May 19, 2019 from 10.00am to 4.00pm. WeFF includes an exhibit of members’ handwoven items, handweaving demonstrations, retail boutique, raffle, and silent auction. This year WeFF will also include exciting new fiber arts workshops. WeFF features 3 vendor halls filled with fiber arts suppliers offering an extensive variety of yarns fibers, tools, books, and equipment for sale. Admission is $6.00. Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3341 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503. Parking Free.
Wishing my readers a great Summer.

Happy weaving,
Website   |  Artist Gallery  Workshops  |  Videos  |  Contact
Nadine Spier
Contemporary Pine Needle Basketweaver
​Basket Weaving Classes and Basket Art for Purchase
1084 N El Camino Real Box B184, Encinitas CA 92024 (760) 533-1000