Eldon Hanning Ash Pounding Video Transcript

Visual: A split-screen image of a simple potato basket and a large, dark-haired man.  Text reads “Eldon Hanning: Micmac Ash Pounding”.  Video cuts to Eldon standing in a workshop speaking so someone off camera.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: I can barely remember when there wasn’t a basket being made in the house. When I started myself making baskets, it’s been about 20 years. I was in the military, and I spent 17 years there. Then when I got out I came home. I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I said well I’ll work for farmers. So I was working for a farmer one time, and I went up to the band office and they had baskets up there.

Visual: Eldon holds up a simple round basket with no handle.  Video cuts briefly to an image of a simple potato basket with a handle, then back to Eldon.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: This was the kind of basket that I saw. I looked at it; I said I can do that. The person said well make me one and show me. So, I said well I have got to get my stuff together that I need. So I went out and I bought, my next-door neighbor had a boy scout ax, a boy scout ax, this one, matter of fact.

Visual: Eldon walks over to a shelf and grabs a small hatchet to show the camera.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: This here is a boy scout ax, this is what I started making baskets with. This is what I used to cut with, to split my logs, chop ‘em down. Not very big, but it works.

Visual: Eldon using the small ax, a well-used wooden mallet, and small wedges to split a log with the help of a second man.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Nobody can turn around and say, “hey, how can you live on making baskets?” For the past 20 years that is what I have been doing. I’ve been working, making baskets. This is how I have been doing it, making my baskets, splitting the logs, hueing them out, pounding them, preparing the wood. I make my baskets and the last 15 years I have been selling wood to other people, basket wood. Yeah, like right now I’ve got, let me think, there’s 65 bundles to one person I gotta get, 30 to another one, 30 potato baskets to one person, 25 to another. Because there’s about 5 or 6 farmers that still use potato baskets.

Visual: A slow pan up the length of the split log, showing a thin layer of light-colored wood on both edges and a large amount of darker wood in the center. We then see Eldon continuing to split the log.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: The white wood, I sell the brown, I separate it. Sap wood I sell to basketmakers up here in Maine, the brown I sell to other people. I’ve got ten bags, what I consider ten bags, which is 70 rolls, I have got to get ready for the basket makers in Canada that buys wood off me.

Visual: Eldon uses the well-used maul and boy scout ax to remove pieces from the edges of split lengths of log. The other man helps with repositioning the log as he works.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: What I’m doing right now, a lot of people can’t do. I don’t understand why, but they say that they can’t judge the wood or don’t realize what they are doing.

Visual: The other man places the end of the split length of wood into a metal sleeve and presses down on it, bending it, which makes the wood split along the length.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: I notch the end so that it’s on a growth ring. What’s happening right now is it’s following that growth ring down.

Visual: Eldon sits in his workshop at a wooden shaving horse that helps him secure the length of split wood he is working with.  He uses his feet to press on a mechanism that wedges the wood against the horse, holding it in place as he uses a draw knife to remove the bark and work the wood.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: First, I’m taking off the bark. What I’m doing is I’m blocking it out, but I’m also, this here, I’m also taking the pieces that are going to flake off. I’m following the grain.

Visual: Eldon stands next to a piece of machinery in his shop. The video then cuts to Eldon turning the machine on, which sets a large hammer-shaped piece pounding up and down.  He places the wood he was working with in the previous clip beneath the hammer, slowing moving it forward so it can be pounded along its length, separating the layers of wood. At the end he holds up a single strip of wood.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: The pounding machine here, it came from a foundry, okay. Some of the Canadian boys, they went to a foundry, and – one of them was working there, they went to see him – and he saw the pounder or something similar to this, but industrial stuff. They turned around and saw it and they looked at it and said, “You know, if we had something like that, we could use it to pound our wood with.” All this wood is ready to go.


Featuring: Eldon Hanning, Frank Hanning

A Collaboration of: The Hudson Museum and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.

Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance is supported in part by: Artography, a grant program of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), funded by the Ford Foundation.

Video Documentation Provided By: ASAP Media Service (Mike Scott, Alexander Gross, Yeshe Parks, Will Seyffer, Justin Taylor).

Millie Rahn, Folklorist.

Hudson Museum: Gretchen Faulkner, Director; Stephen Bicknell, Still Photographer.

Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Also made possible by The University of Maine.