ARTS & CRAFTS
Ruth Hills uses the simple coconut palm
frond to create her works of art
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SUSAN BURGESS
In the summer of 2007, Ruth Hills was standing on a
hot sidewalk in Key West watching a man weave palm
fronds into baskets. “I walked up, and said, ‘That’s cool.
Can you tell me how you do that?’ He turned his head
and said, ‘This is my art,’ ” Hills says.
Taken aback, she stepped away from him. “I realized he
probably thought I would take some of his business away,”
she says. “But I love crafts and I just wanted to learn how. So
when I got back, I went to the library in Vero Beach and found
a book that shows how to weave palm fronds step by step.”
A rather unusual style depicted in the book caught her eye.
It didn’t use blades cut from the main stem; it showed how to
weave them while they are still attached. When complete, the
stem is part of the basket and extends above it.
Hills found she could weave three, four, or even five
baskets from a single frond, still attached to the main stem,
Basket weaver Ruth Hills demonstrates how a series of five baskets she wove from a single long coconut palm frond can be hung from a tree
trunk to serve as plant holders, bird feeders, or holiday decoration holders.