Hi, I’m Mark Young and I’m a basket maker, bow maker and 3rd generation fisherman from York, Maine. I got interested in traditional skills like basket making over 14 years ago and specialize in black ash basket and bow making. In my spare time, I collect wild edibles like mushrooms, nettle, acorns, and a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants.
I’d like to express gratitude to the many teachers that I’ve learned from including Raymond “Jakey” Weare from York, Maine. Over 65 years ago, Jakey was driven to learn how to make traditional ash baskets but was turned away repeatedly from the local native basket makers. For years, he kept seeking a teacher and never gave up until he found an elder from Mount Agamenticus who was willing to share his skills.
At one time, baskets were a valued trade in New England. Many indigenous families became highly skilled basket makers and would build up their basket supply during the harsh winters and travel by wagon in the spring and summer to sell them to tourists. Eventually the basket trade became a thing of the past and the natives from the mountains died off or moved on to other trades. One of the elders of the Mount Agamenticus basket makers realized that there weren’t many people interested in learning his craft so he offered to teach Jakey how to make traditional ash baskets with one cavet; Jakey needed to pass the craft of ash basket making on to others. Over the years, there haven’t been many that wanted to learn but I was an eager student.
After many afternoons sitting with Jakey and learning how to make baskets, I asked him what I could do to pay him back. He said, teach anyone willing to learn and that is what I do now. You can find me at the Maine Primitive Gathering most years, where I offer basket making workshops. Occasionally, I teach at the Maine Primitive Skills School and other nature based schools.
Growing up a mile from Mount Agamenticus, the mountain became my play ground where I hunted and fished, built lean-tos, and hung out in the same woods that the indigenous basket makers roamed and harvested materials to make their baskets. Little did I know then, that I would grow up to pass on their craft. I am honored to continue the circle. The trees that I now harvest are the ancestor trees of these great basket makers.
After harvesting the perfect tree, the wood is pounded, releasing the growth rings which create the strong and rugged weaving materials that form each basket. All baskets are hand woven creating a extremely strong, durable, and functional basket that will become a family heirloom to passed down for generations.