For decades, the art of Nantucket Basket Making never left the shores of Nantucket until Etsuko Yashiro introduced the art around the world.
In the summer of 1995, Etsuko visited Nantucket Island for the first time.
This was when she first laid eyes on a nantucket basket and fell in love. She decided that she too would like to make a beautiful basket and began learning from her friend, Pat Cane, who lived in Boston at the time.
After a while, Pat informed Etsuko that there was nothing else that she could further teach her. Etsuko decided to return to Nantucket Island once again, there she met Alan Reed and his beautiful baskets. When she asked if he could teach her, he replied that he was not interested in teaching anyone and asked for her to leave. Even after being rejected, she felt that there was no one else she wanted to learn from and returned to the island numerous times to ask him to teach her. Time after time she would go to Nantucket Island to see Alan but every time would be sent back.
Finally after five years, Alan slowly began to realize Etsuko’s passion for learning the art of Nantucket Basket Making and how much she really wanted him to be her mentor. One day, when Etsuko came to see Alan like she had for the past five years, he replied saying that if she brought her finished basket to him in two weeks, he would look at it for her. From that point on, Alan and Etsuko began their journey as mentor and mentee.
Etsuko would quickly realize that learning the art of Nantucket Basket Making from Alan would not be easy. It would be more emotionally and physically difficult than she had ever imagined it could be. On top of that, going to Nantucket island would require her to be away from her children for one or two weeks at a time. Every time she would be faced with a feeling of guilt of leaving her children and many times would question if it was the right thing to do. Yet she persevered and time after time would make the long trip from her home in Boston to Nantucket to learn from Alan.
This is how the story of Etsuko and her love for Nantucket baskets began and how the art that never left the island would someday cross oceans and be loved around the world.