Made in Ghana and Morocco, you may have noticed the beautiful straw baskets that we started carrying in 2012. We were pleased to meet the importer, Peggy Peterson, after seeing her charming inventory of ethnic arts and natural fiber products.

Basket - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffOver 35 years ago, when Peggy was a student at UC Davis she traveled to Ghana, fell in love with that country, and started traveling back each winter quarter (delaying her graduation). Peggy started out mailing beautiful baskets that she found back to the US so she could sell them at craft fairs. As she kept sending more and more baskets to the US, and her inventory kept growing, she decided to open a retail store. That was the beginning of Asylum Down in Nevada City, CA.

The baskets that we carry are made in Northern Ghana (Bolgatanga). Most of the artisans are farmers who make the baskets to supplement their income. The straw is grown in Central Ghana. When the farmers receive the straw, they split it and roll it to soften it and make it more pliable. It is then dyed and woven into beautiful baskets. Peggy knows the farmers and pays them directly, then ships the baskets to the states.

We carry large and small Bolgatangas, Baby Bolgas, Fruit Baskets with handles, large, medium and Small Fruit Baskets (that would be perfect for winnowing), Fans, and two styles of Market Baskets from Morocco. If you don’t like their shape, just wet them, shape them and let them dry.

She still travels once a year to Ghana to buy the baskets, but unfortunately Peggy can only stay about 2 weeks at a time since she has responsibilities in the States. Come in and check out these beauties in our breezeway. And if you’re ever in Nevada City, visit Asylum Down on Broad Street and say hi to Peggy.