We had the good fortune that Ken Sampson, another conservation student not in the class, was gifted an ash tree trunk from a neighbor. He chopped the trunk into smaller, more manageable pieces, and brought it, along with some tools, to campus for us to experience how to manufacture our own wood splints for basket weaving. He even pre-split some sections of the trunk into billets and left some sections of the trunk whole so we could try out different techniques.
After almost an hour of pounding on the wood, we were only able to produce a few splints that would be useable for making a basket. To honor these precious strips, we wove them together into a communal class basket. Each person in the class contributed one woven strip and everyone took turns in finishing off the rim. Through our blood, sweat, and tears (or at least our blood and sweat!) we were able to achieve something special: first-hand knowledge of how difficult harvesting materials is and the deepened respect for master basket weavers who do this work for a living.