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Basket, gourd artist weaves Nevada's Western heritage into works
by Jessica Garcia
Nov 12, 2008 | 3036 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Tribune/Nathan Orme - Clint Appelt will give a demonstration of his rope basket making on Saturday at Eagle’s Nest Trading Post.
Clint Appelt loves all things cowboy.

His passion for the Southwestern culture would make one think he was a born Nevadan, but this Los Angeles native has spent most of his life as a ferrier and caring for horses.

That enthusiasm led Appelt to become an artist who weaves rope baskets, using an important tool of the cowboys, and capturing the Western tradition of Nevada, where he has lived since the 1960s.

On Saturday, Appelt will offer demonstrations of his basket making, as well as gourd art, at Eagle's Nest Trading Post in Reno.

"There's a lot to it," Appelt said.

Appelt fashions the rope baskets by creating a base, cutting off the ends of rope, then burning, melting and coiling the rope in a circular motion until it is shaped like a small vase.

Each basket is unique, particularly in the colors of the rope, which vary according to the burning of the rope's fibers, which reveals the nylon strings holding it together. Some of Appelt's baskets are a traditional light brown or grey tone while others are orange, blue or darker gray.

"They vary from green to turquoise, pink, brown, to white to orange to red," Appelt said. "You name it, they have it. The cowboys get it real bright; they like the pink ropes and that kind of stuff."

Some of the baskets look blackened by strips of innertube that are cut and placed as Appelt makes the basket to keep it from slipping and keep fingers from catching, he said.

Appelt said the craft can be dangerous as it involves burning. He works carefully with his right index finger, the tip of which he lost after a horse trampled on it while he was trying to reshoe it.

Appelt can make baskets of single, double or triple ropes and can do custom work for people depending on their intentions for the basket.

"Some people's horses, when they pass away, they'll want to take part of the tail and use it (as a finishing touch on a basket)," Appelt said. "That way they can have it on display and have memories of their horses."

Appelt also uses pheasant feathers and trade beads, or non-manufactured beads, as decorative items.

"You can tell the difference because the real trade beads are duller, rougher," he said.

With his gourd art, Appelt puts intricate glasswork on the exterior of the hollow shells. Often, he said, he'll put turquoise in a cast-iron skillet and smash it and use it to create Aztec symbols or petroglyphs, such as a lizard, top it with resin and grind it to create a textured look.

Appelt keeps several works as trophies for his demonstrations, but also sells some of his creations. He charges $65 for single ropers, $95 for double ropers and $150 or more for baskets that use three ropes.

It's a fun and unique craft, Appelt said, and he enjoys designing his works.

He was mentored by Yvonne Logan, another local artist, and credits his friendship with her and others for helping him learn and refine his craft.

"I wouldn't be what I am if it wasn't for the teachers I had," he said.

Appelt will give demonstrations of rope basket making and gourd art at Eagle's Nest Trading Post, a gallery within Wildflower Village, on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about the demonstration, call 787-3769.

To contact Appelt directly, call 677-1498 or e-mail him at

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