Clyde Jenkins and Sam Cave

White Oak Basket Making

Master Artist
Clyde Jenkins
Apprentice
Sam Cave
Folkway
White Oak Basket Making
Location
Page County
Sam Cave, James Moore, and Clyde Jenkins make white oak baskets. Photo by Morgan Miller/Virginia Folklife Program.
Sam Cave, James Moore, and Clyde Jenkins make white oak baskets. Photo by Morgan Miller/Virginia Folklife Program.

The traditional skill of making baskets from white oaks is hundreds of years old, involving an in-depth study of the grain structure of the tree. Each white oak tree behaves differently, so basket makers must work with hundreds of trees to gain an intimate understanding of the nuances of the wood. Master artist Clyde Jenkins grew up and still lives on his family homeplace in the Shenandoah Mountains, learning this unique craft from older members of the community. Jenkins is respected as one of the most prolific teachers of his craft, and he relished the opportunity for the one-on-one attention he was able to offer his apprentice, Luray native, Sam Cave.

I saw my father and my grandfather work wood as a child, and I wanted to learn how to do it, too. Learning how to do things using these old methods, well it’s really served me my whole life. The way my family lives our life, to be honest, is really not all that different from how my grandfather and his grandfather lived. And it’s important for me to pass these traditions along because if I don’t do it, who will?
-Clyde Jenkins