Her mother taught her and she has carried on this magnificent tradition, teaching her daughter Annette to weave as well. We have been visiting Lillie for several years and find her artistry to be superb. Sweetgrass basket making has been part of the Charleston and Mt. Pleasant communities for more than 300 years. Today, it is one of the oldest art forms of African origin in the United States. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, an old village and modern suburb on the north side of Charleston Harbor, enjoys the distinction of being the only place where this particular type of basketry is practiced.
Baskets are purchased by museums and art collectors throughout the world, such as the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. Each basket reflects the artist's skill as both designer and technician. A basket's value increases with age and with proper care will last indefinitely. Examples of Lowcountry coil basketry exist that are well over a century old. Because the grasses used in these baskets are from wetlands and marsh areas, water will not hurt them. With a soft brush or cloth, they can be carefully washed in soapy water and rinsed thoroughly in cold water. They should then be air dried. This is the only care they require.