Culture // 2 min Read

Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets Creations

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Feb 28, 2019

Michael Smalls and his right-hand man Dino Badger stopped by the Conservancy Classroom to teach us more about one of our favorite pieces of art with a rich Lowcountry history – sweetgrass baskets. Michael is a 7th generation basket-sewer. That’s right, sewer. Not, weaver. Michael learned this art form from his great-grandmother, Lucinda Pringle, whose own mother was an enslaved worker on Mount Pleasant’s Laurel Hill Plantation. As a master sewer, Michael has the talent to not only make beautiful baskets, but to also teach others – right handed and left handed – how to create these intricate works of art. Dino, whom is left-handed, is one of Michael’s students that has also fallen in love with sweetgrass basket-sewing and helps Michael make these baskets.

The duo collects as much sweetgrass as they can during the months of June and July. This is when the grass is not in bloom. If they can’t get enough, they reach out to family and friends in the Mount Pleasant area that collect the grass but do not make baskets out of it. They spread the grass in the sun to get as much of the moisture out of the grass prior to sewing the basket. Then, they use two tools – a pair of scissors and a spoon or nailbone – to create the baskets. They don’t use measurements or a pattern. They allow for the seagrass to naturally flow as the shape of the basket takes form. After a few 8-hour days, their baskets are complete and are named after either their looks for their function.

Their baskets are displayed across the world. From South Carolina State College to as far as Africa, their baskets inspire members of the next generation to learn more. Michael and Dino estimate there are roughly 100 to 150 sweetgrass left in South Carolina. Because of this, they take great pride in teaching the art of basket-sewing to those interested. They teach 3rd and 8th graders the history, art and biology related to sweetgrass baskets and, also host an art workshop for special needs students. Not only is this sharing their love of sweetgrass baskets, but it is also a form of therapy for some of these students.

To learn more about Michael and Dino or to shop the Gullah Sweetgrass Baskets Creations collection, visit their website here.

Culture / Day Trips from Palmetto Bluff

Story by Barry Kaufman and Photographs by Lizzy Rollins Just beyond the gates of Palmetto Bluff, at the end of that quiet stretch of trees and sunlight, a solitary strip of pavement beckons. This connective tissue, a tributary, leads off across the great Amer...

Feb 2024
palmetto bluff

Real Estate / Behind the Bluff with Broker-in-Charge W. Bryan Byrne

Bryan’s Journey to Palmetto Bluff Real Estate In this edition of Behind the Bluff, W. Bryan Byrne, the Broker-in-Charge at Palmetto Bluff Real Estate Company, discusses his two-decade journey in the community. His experience has intricately molded the authent...

Jan 2024
real estate in bluffton sc

Real Estate / Lowcountry Housing Trends & Market Updates

Real Estate in Bluffton, SC: Trends, Updates, and Insights Bluffton, South Carolina, nestled within the scenic Lowcountry, is not just a picturesque haven but also a thriving real estate market. As the demand for homes in this charming town continues to grow,...

Jan 2024

Food & Wine / Mocktails from the Palmetto Bluff Club

Rosemary Spice Mocktail Recipe Introducing Buffalos' exquisite Rosemary Spice Mocktail—a meticulously crafted blend that awakens the taste buds with a perfect harmony of bold flavors. Fresh jalapenos are muddled for a subtle spicy kick, while luscious cra...

Jan 2024

Artist in Residence / Painting Wild

Story by Sandy Lang and Photographs by Lawson Builder In early May, The Arts Initiative hosted renowned Lowcountry painter West Fraser as our esteemed Artist In Residence. Throughout his stay, residents were treated to an array of events, including a painting...

Jan 2024
palmetto buff golf course

Sporting Life / Behind the Bluff with the Palmetto Bluff 9-Hole Golf Course Team

All About the New Palmetto Bluff Golf Course Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, a new golfing adventure is taking shape—the Crossroads 9-Hole Golf Course. To delve into the intricacies of this project, we had the opportunity to sit down w...

Dec 2023

Conservation / Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run 2023: A Celebration of Endurance, Nature, and Community

A Recap of the 2034 Buffalo Run The Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday, December 11, 2023, drawing in a record-breaking crowd of over 500 runners. The event, nestled in the heart of Palmetto Bluff's 20,000 acres of natural sp...

Dec 2023
places to eat near hilton head

Food & Wine / Ask the Locals: Our Favorite Restaurants Near Hilton Head

The 10 Best Places to Eat Near Hilton Head Island Nestled on the southernmost tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island beckons not only with its pristine beaches but also with a culinary scene that rivals its natural beauty. The Lowcountry, known for breatht...

Dec 2023

Artist in Residence / Journey through Creativity: Palmetto Bluff's 2023 Artist in Residence Highlights

As the sun sets over the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, we are grateful for the creativity that took center stage throughout the year. The 2023 Artist in Residence program has ended, leaving behind a trail of artistic marvels and inspiring stories. F...

Dec 2023

Real Estate / The Builders Behind the Bluff

Meet the Palmetto Bluff Builders Team A home is more than just bricks and mortar; it's where cherished memories are made, and dreams come to life. At Palmetto Bluff, the Palmetto Bluff Builders team designs homes based on your vision.  Allow us to introduc...

Dec 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us