September / October 2019 Newsletter
4 statements lead to wisdom –
I don’t know
I was wrong
I’m sorry
I need help
- Penny Louise
Dear Readers,

I’ve been asked by many of my students what to do if they lose interest in a piece that’s partially finished. They feel they have too much time invested to just toss it in the rubbish, but are finding it difficult to continue. I always recommend you put it away, out of sight, for a while. A “while” could actually be years! It’s no fun working on a piece that no longer excites you. You might be surprised that after not having seen it for a few months (or longer) that with fresh eyes you can see the qualities and potential in the piece and may find yourself newly inspired. I have to admit I have a drawer, a rather large drawer, of UFO’s (unfinished objects). When I lose interest and no longer take pleasure in working on a piece, there it goes. A few weeks back I invited a friend to come over to help me figure out if they were salvageable or just taking up space. We sat on the floor and I pulled them out one-at-a-time. I waited quietly so not to influence her reaction. I insisted on honest feedback or the exercise would have been a waste of time. With her new set of eyes and her own personal creative vision she gave me some insightful suggestions on how to proceed on some of them, how far to rip out others, and which ones should be given up as a lost cause (fortunately there was only 1 of those). That month I finished 3 of them and have to say I enjoyed working on them with new inspiration and was so happy to be depleting the unfinished projects. My UFO drawer is not crammed anymore, I can even see the bottom of it, and I have ideas on how to proceed with the remaining baskets. Boy, does that feel good! Thank you Dianna! The lesson I want to share is to seek a critique from others if you're stumped. If you belong to a guild, take your “problem pieces” and ask the group for their response and feedback. You may receive just the perfect nugget of information to improve the piece and recover the enthusiasm to continue working on it. Or just stash it out of sight for a while. I also suggest you check out The Art of Pine Needle Basketry Facebook page - people frequently post their "problem" pieces looking for feedback. It's also a wonderful site for inspiration.


If you have an object that doesn't sit flat, maybe it's severely concave or lopsided, but you want to use it as a center for a basket but need it to make contact with the faux leather backing, you can build it up easily with Golden Acrylic Medium - make sure you get the Heavy Gel. It does not spread out. Just fill in the concave area and let it fully dry, then it's ready to glue down. 

If you belong to a group, or just a group of friends, that might be interested in holding a 1, 2 or 3 day workshop, please contact me for options and details and possible dates for 2020. You can customize the class to the specific needs of your group.


I’m happy to announce I will be returning to teach a 2-Day Workshop at the Borrego Art Institute (January 2020) and a 1-Day Workshop at the Ilan Foundation (April 2020), both in southern California. Borrego is in the desert, and Ilan is in the Julian Mountains perched high on a mountaintop with extraordinary, vast views. Fabulous and inspiring locations to learn how to make baskets! See below for more information.

Sadly, we’re having to cut down my beloved Guatemalan pine tree (that I discuss in one of my videos). It's been the cherished source of the richly colored, fine, flexible pine needles I use in my own artwork. Over the years it has grown at a progressive slant until it finally became diagonal. We had braced it for years with a large wood plank, then eventually had to tie it to a nearby tree, which concerned me because I thought it might bring down our 50’ Canary Island pine. We were left with no choice. So little by little my husband is using a chainsaw and cutting more and more branches off. As many of you have discovered, fresh green needles do not come off the sappy branch easily, you have to wait until they start fading in color, then they come off easily. The ends of the cut branches were oozing a terrible amount of sap (which my dog somehow always managed to step into) so my husband had the clever idea of hanging them over our fence until the needles dried enough for me to remove them. It almost looks like an art installation!
As the needles “ripen” enough to remove from the branches, they then need to be spread them out on screens for browning and to complete drying. I needed some new used screens, all the old screens I was using had pulled away from the frames and were no longer useable. I called a local mobile screen company and asked if I could get any discarded framed window screens from him. He was surprised by my request even after I explained how I wanted to use them. But he kindly offered to drop them off at my house when he was in the neighborhood. Boy, can’t get better service than that! A few days later I found a tall stack of screens in my front yard. Just wanted to share this with my readers who may need a way to spread out their plant materials for drying – check with a local screen company! Maybe you’ll luck out and even get free home delivery too.
I hear from grateful customers from time to time about how my videos have either taught then how to coil, or how it made drastic improvement to their existing skills. Wanted to share a recent post one customer left on Amazon. Click here to get more information on the videos or to purchase.

"Wow!! This 2 disc set is really more that I expected! The pack arrived several days before the posted delivery date, was very well packaged, and the disc quality is excellent! Now to the meat!!! Nadine's teaching skills are superb; her tips and tricks are worth it all. My wife and I watched both DVD's almost back to back, and decided that we will have to attend one of Nadine's live workshops! She audibly repeats the steps as she is demonstrating, and that only reinforces what techniques you need to learn. We both have taken pine needle coiling classes on several different occasions from excellent instructors, but I have to say that Nadine Spier's techniques and teaching have inspired more creative juices to flow than anybody else has been able to achieve in this field. I have to say that I will be using these DVD's as reference material very frequently! Whether you are a gourder or basket weaver, this is a remarkable set of learning tools!!!"


April 4, 2020
Julian, California

I’ll be returning to the Ilan Lael Foundation to teach a 1-day pine needle basketry workshop. The location is the amazing property and home of environmental artist James Hubbell in Julian outside San Diego. My students have the rare privilege of freely wandering the property and exploring the extraordinary buildings and artwork set atop a mountain that has an expansive view of peaks and valleys.

Students will learn how to coil a basket using a stone as a beautiful and unique center and using the swirling basic stitch that lines up on both sides of the basket. Students provided with all materials including a mounted stone (plenty to choose from!), a large spool of Irish waxed linen thread and washed/prepared pine needles.  Depending on time, some students may also learn how to make handles, using beads and much more. All levels welcome. Repeat students invited to attend to learn more advanced techniques.

The charming town of Julian has many inns and B & B's from which to choose if you want to make it a weekend getaway.

January 25 & 26, 2020
Borrego Springs, California
Borrego Springs Art Institute

Students will learn how to coil a basket using a stone as a beautiful and unique center and using the swirling basic stitch that lines up on both sides of the basket. Students provided with all materials including a mounted stone (plenty to choose from!), a large spool of Irish waxed linen thread and washed/prepared pine needles.  Depending on time, some students may also learn how to make handles, using beads and much more. All levels welcome. Repeat students invited to attend to learn more advanced techniques. To register or for more information see or contact me personally if you have any questions

A trip to Borrego Springs can be much more than taking a workshop! There are endless miles of trails throughout the 600,000 acre state park, the second largest state park in the U.S.! Borrego Springs is home to very rare Bighorn sheep, 130 amazing, larger-than-life metal sculptures scattered about the desert (see link for more information), take a hike in a Palm Canyon where a stream flows from melted snow from craggy mountain tops and ancient palm trees line the banks, sunrises and sunsets that defy imagination as the sun paints the desert with colors of pink, lavender, yellow, reds and more. Nothing brings out the magic of a sunrise/sunset more than the desert! There are several hotels and 2 campgrounds all within two miles of the Art Institute.
November 1-3, 2019
Whidbey Island, Washington

Students will 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.


Workshops in Nadine's home (about 25 minutes north of San Diego in Olivenhain)
$60 plus $40 materials (optional). Time 10 am - 4 pm. The price for home workshops will be $70 starting in January 2020, however if you enroll now for 2020, you can pay the current price of $60.

October 26
November 16
December 14

January 11
February 8
March 28

My home workshops are limited to 6 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 or call (760) 533-1000
December 7, 2019
1-Day Workshop
9 am - 4 pm
California Center for Creative Renewal
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!

The workshop will be held at a garden retreat located in the coastal hills of Encinitas, southern California. The Center’s 1.5 acres include a fully-equipped Craftsman-style art studio and relaxed, informal meeting spaces, meadows of flowers and scented shrubs, a fruit orchard, a garden labyrinth, and a short canyon walking trail. Native and exotic plants flourish along meandering paths. Meditation benches provide privacy for reflection and expansive views of Southern California’s coastal hills. Breakfast provided.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Fall as we make the transition from hot Summer to the crisp refreshing mornings that accompany the new season.

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