Behind the Design: The Nantucket Lightship Basket

Posted by Claire Murray on

In 1987, Claire designed the Nantucket Basket rug.  Inspired by these iconic baskets, this simple yet colorful rug shows a traditional basket overflowing with island roses.  But do you know the history of these sturdy, enduring containers?  

In the mid-1850's, the baskets were so named because they were hand made by the sailor's living aboard the lightships in the harbor waters off Nantucket.  Made of rattan, the reeds are attached to a flat wooden bottom and then woven around the form of a mold.  Once the weaving is completed, the mold is removed and the basket is ready for trimming. 

In the 1940's, lids were designed and introduced thus giving birth to the famous Nantucket Handbag. Below is some history provided by the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum. You can visit at

This rug, as with several others depicting the Nantucket Basket, pay homage to Claire's love of the history of Nantucket.  But, even if you aren't the descendent of a whaler, or salty seaman, these baskets are produced now across the US and are very popular for their durability and history.

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