Anne Scarpa McCauley began making honeysuckle baskets as a girl while out tending goats.
Born in Windsor, Vermont, she moved with her family at age four to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. One of eleven children, her family, early hippies, raised dairy goats along with other animals. From the age of six, Anne often had the job of taking the herd of about twenty-seven goats to better browsing areas on the large, unfenced parts of the property. There were fields, woods, brooks, and thicket areas where honeysuckle grew abundantly. The goats loved the bitter taste of the honeysuckle leaves and often she and the goats would run together to places where it grew best. While the goats were feasting on the leaves, Anne sometimes made little circles or wreaths for her hair with the nearby honeysuckle vines.
One day, she decided to make a basket with the long honeysuckle vines. At age twelve she made a little basket with her own pattern. It is the same pattern she uses for all her baskets. Anne made more baskets and began to sell them alongside her family’s woodcrafts at shows. They sold well and began to receive many compliments and awards. Later Anne exhibited at art shows on her own, and soon the baskets were also in fine shops and art galleries.
While a teenager, she taught her basket making to students at a local high school and later gave a demonstration to a local women’s auxiliary. She has also given demonstrations at her children’s school.
Soon after making her first basket, Anne saw a majestic and vivid picture in her mind of a beautiful vase. It has been her main guide and inspiration for all the thousands of baskets she has since made. From the beginning, her ultimate goal has been to be able to make that vase.
Anne has never taken lessons, read books, or talked with other basket makers for ideas on making baskets. Anne received no schooling. She studied on her own, mostly while out with the goats – the young goats often staying nearby or sleeping in her lap. Later, at age nineteen, she received her GED diploma.
She lives outside Charlottesville, Virginia, an area with beautiful mountains, valleys, and hillsides where honeysuckle loves to grow.
Anne is grateful to the wonderful local people who have continued to let her pick their honeysuckle, while also enjoying the fresh air in the fields and foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum Permanent Basket Collection Includes Anne's Honeysuckle Baskets Two of Anne's baskets are part of the Smithsonian permanent basket collection: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets. Her basketry is also featured in the accompanying film and book. The exhibition (Measure of the Earth) was October 4-December 8, 2013 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.