According to Muffin, her “mother and aunt were very talented. I was enameling on copper by the age of ten, and painted in high school. I knew I wanted to draw at a very young age when my dad a family doctor in Athens, Alabama, drew organs and skeletons on our skin. I thought this was so cool.”
After a friend of hers came home from John C. Campbell Folk School she called her and said “Muffin you have to learn to coil pine needles to make baskets.” She said later that she should “try coiling and gourds together.” Muffin said “I fell in love with gourds.”
Muffin uses Alabama gourds and Alabama longleaf pine needles. Needles are collected around Lake Martin and Lake Jordan. Gourds are from Limestone County, Clanton, and Ozark. A few gourds are ordered from California, walnuts are from her dad’s trees, and agates are ordered. Depending on the size of a gourd and the number of coiled needles it takes from five to twenty hours or more to complete a piece. “I just get lost and forget the troubles of the world” when creating baskets.
She describes her creative process in eight steps: 1. Pick the gourd for its size and shape; 2. Wash the gourd; 3. Cut; 4. Clean the inside out; 5. Drill the holes; 6. Paint if it has a painted design; 7. Start to coil the needles; 8. Finish it with a protective coat of wax or polycrylic.
Multi-talented, she was an art major at Huntington College in Montgomery. Her other mediums include batiks, pottery, sugar eggs, watercolors and paper art (pop-up books). She has taught pine needle basketry at John C. Campbell; at OLLI at AUM; and a paper making class at J.C.C Folk School at an upcoming session. A number of awards and accomplishments include showings at The Alabama State Council on the Arts…Alabama Originals: Contemporary Craft; sales at Pike Road and Sturdivant Hall (Selma, Alabama); had an article published in The Gourd Magazine (official publication of the American Gourd Society); and is a member of the Alabama Gourd Society and the American Gourd Society.