Doering Basket

Artist: Mavis Vercine Doering

Mavis Vercine Doering – Baskets b. August 31, 1929, Hominy, Oklahoma d. August 9, 2007, Phoenix, Arizona.

Cherokee basket making is a practical skill that has been transformed into an artistic endeavor. Members of the tribe have made baskets for centuries, even before they made pots. Baskets were used for daily tasks, including carrying, gathering, storage, sifting grains, even fishing.

Artist Mavis Doering learned the craft from her mother, but didn’t get serious about making baskets until she attended a Native American workshop in 1973. Afterwards she continued researching at libraries and museums to discover the “forgotten intricacies of Cherokee basket weaving.”

The traditional double-walled Cherokee basket requires simultaneously weaving a basket within a basket. “The inside is woven from bottom to top, then the basket’s ribs are folded over and an outside wall is woven in place,” Doering explained in an Oklahoma Today article in 1981. This technique results in a smooth finish, both inside and out, along with a sturdy structure.

Doering used native Oklahoma plants to make her baskets: buck brush, cattail blades, thin strips of oak, and honeysuckle runners. Natural dyes produced the traditional muted colors: pecan, walnut, hickory nut hulls, peach, wild cherry and wild plum leaves, pokeberries, huckleberries, and elderberries.

Doering often incorporated seven items into each of her basket designs to represent the seven Cherokee clans. Keeping the Cherokee culture alive motivated to share her passion for basket weaving with others. She taught the art to so many children in the Oklahoma City area that she called herself “the grandmother of the basket makers in Oklahoma.”

Doering’s baskets have been displayed in the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She also had showings at the Southern Plains Indian Museum, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum at the University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Historical Society. A favorite of collectors, she participated in 13 Santa Fe Indian Markets. Doering received the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award in 1984 and was named Honored One at the Red Earth Festival in 1997. Her pieces on display in the Oklahoma Judicial Center were purchased for the collection.