Aleah Russel creates decorative baskets from repurposed nylon ranch ropes.
She power washes them clean. Then, when the ropes are dry, she will wind the rope into a basket design, using a soldering iron to secure the rope to itself.
Some may be shallow flower or fruit trays, Others may have a deeper wall for nuts, decorative items or fruit. Some ropes are used in decorative wall art.
My art is unique in that it is made out of something that otherwise would have been thrown away. I know I said in the agricultural world everything gets repurposed, but cattle ropes do have a lifetime.
After the rope wears out and can’t hold a loop it typically gets tossed in a pile and while it can’t hold a good loop anymore it’s also too stiff to be used to tie anything down. Each rope is different in its own way and each one holds a story. It may have been used by a rancher in the desert of California or the mountains of Wyoming, by a high school rodeo kid practicing for state or by a mom getting back into the ranch rodeo circuit. No two ropes are the same at the end of their life. Each roper handles and cares for their ropes differently.
By the time I get it it may have sat out in the corner of a barn for years or maybe it was just on the tack room floor collecting dust.
All of this shapes what my baskets end up looking like. Sometimes the stains hold on even after being power washed and you might get a two toned basket instead of just one.
Other times everything washes right out and it’s all one color. Some ropes are faded by the sun and some are just what you think they’ll be going into it, but none are the same.