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Artist Breathes life Into The Art Of Weaving

Reva Cook, a Southport local of 10 years, has found a new passion in the art of weaving pine needle baskets. Her first exposure to the art form was when she noticed a small basket on a coworker’s desk. “I saw this little round basket that she kept paperclips in,” she said. “I asked ‘What is that basket?’ She told me it was pine needles, made by her great grandmother, who was Native American. I couldn’t believe it. Nobody has the patience to make a basket out of pine needles.”

After her retirement from working in law enforcement for more than 20 years, Reva began to take a pine needle weaving class. The instructor, Donna Davis, encouraged Reva every step of the way, even during her first class. “This lady was vivacious, she was friendly, she was just great,” Reva said. “I made my first basket that was so ugly. It had pines sticking out everywhere, it had a few holes in it. And she just ooh’d and ahh’d ‘Oh look at this basket that Reva made!’ I still go to class. I’ve been going to class since 2015. Donna is the most generous, encouraging person in the world. And I think that’s the only reason I stayed with it.”

When Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, having already collected pine needles and being housebound, Reva began to practice her weaving. During this time she fell in love with the art of weaving. “I’ve never done anything artsy-craftsy...But I could pick up something and it would kind of tell me what it wanted to be,” Reva said. “You know people would ask, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ and I say, ‘Well it hasn’t told me what it wants to be yet.’” Her favorite part of her artistic process is listening to the potential that her pieces have. “It’ll say, ‘I need air or I need movement.’ So, kind of hearing what the piece wants to become is the fun part.”

When designing her baskets, she must decide how she will drill it or make holes in order to be able to weave around the piece. She uses different colored threads and pine needles to give each piece life. “Pine needles sort of have a mind of their own,” said Reva. “No two pieces are ever the same. “The last storm, it brought down cedar and oak trees. You’d find the most interesting designs in that wood. I’m never short of things to weave on.” She also makes art out of roots, twigs, and driftwood, inspired by the nature around her.

Reva is most inspired by her father, who similarly discovered his artistic talents later in life. “When I’m working on something, it’s so often that I catch myself thinking about Dad. There were 12 of us. He didn’t have time to be an artist when he was younger and raising us. But as he got older, he would whittle and paint. And would paint most of his things on brown paper sacks. He would cut up a brown paper sack and next thing you knew he would sketch a man with a gun over his shoulder and he’d have the brimmed hat and you’d see the birds out.”

When she was approached to sell her baskets, Reva hadn’t thought about it as a business venture. For every art piece sold, a portion goes to charity. Reva supports the North Carolina chapter of the Mooseheart: a nonprofit dedicated to providing care and resources for children in need connected to the Moose Lodge organization, of which her husband is a member. “It has been very rewarding to me to be able to give back, because I had no clue that I had the talent to do this,” said Reva. “I donate a lot to the fire departments, to Warrior Ride. I donate a lot of what I do, because it’s just a gift to me to make something that somebody loves.” Her passion for charity is evident throughout her life, having worked as a police detective and with troubled children at the Eckerd Wilderness Camp. Reva has devoted her time and efforts to making others’ lives better.

Along with her passion for charity and art, Reva takes issues concerning the environment seriously. “Sustainability is absolutely, without a doubt, imperative. I seldom buy anything new.” Reva utilizes everything from leather to belt buckles and broaches in her pieces. Her ability to repurpose the most unexpected items into an art piece is one to be admired. She instills this environmentally friendly message, as well as highlights the origins of the Native American art, with a card attached to her baskets: ‘Long leaf pine needles are recycled and repurposed items that are stitched together using the age old technique of pine needle weaving. Marrying the ancient craft with today’s recycling movement, it is an environmentally friendly way to create unique art pieces for today that can become heirlooms of tomorrow.’

You can see more of Reva’s work at the Moose Lodge on Thursday nights or email her at for more information.

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