Preserving the Art of Sweetgrass Basket Sewing




  • Folklife/Traditional Arts
  • Crafts

Geographical Availability

  • Upstate
  • Midlands
  • PeeDee
  • Low Country


Primary Contact: Michael Smalls

A 7th generation basket sewer Michael Smalls was taught by his great grandmother Lucinda Pringle whose own mother was an enslaved worker on Mt. Pleasant’s Laurel Hill plantation. Michael describes sewing baskets as a spiritual experience, when the sewer works the designs seem to come out of nowhere and he can sew them more beautifully and quickly. Often as they sew Michael and Dino pray for the well-being of the baskets future owners.

Michael fondly remembers playing with basket remnants as his family sewed baskets under the trees. One day it was decided that the time had come for Michael to learn, and he was allowed to try his hand at small flat coasters. Like some many of his contemporaries he returned to the craft much later in his life. determined to preserve the art of the Gullah baskets.

Though a native of Mt. Pleasant, Michael shows his work at the Coastal Discovery Museum and other locations on Hilton Head Island SC. Dino Badger a former apprentice of Michael Smalls, now partners with him creating baskets and appearing in educational programs and demonstrations throughout the state and outside the state. A New York native his roots trace back to Round O SC.

They have both taught students with disabilities as well as working with Memory Matters, teaching adults with Alzheimer’s disease.