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Recycled Ropes Become Art

Carla VanValkenburg doing her day job

In addition to ranching, I started making rope baskets in 2002. The first time I saw a picture of a rope basket in a magazine, I was hooked. Now I just needed to figure out how to make one.

Rope Cross by Carla VanValkenburg

Thankfully, I had a friend who knew the craft and was willing to teach me. We had met a previous summer, while she was camping at the Gould KOA. She returned to camp the next summer, and that is when the fun started.

I am never short on material for baskets; on a cattle ranch there is no shortage of ropes around. I just don't steal ropes off the boy's saddles! Additionally, as word got out that I was making rope baskets, neighbors began supplying me with old ropes.

For example, I had been working on a basket when I ran into Dave and Kay Meyring out irrigating. I visited with them, and the next day I had a brand new supply of ropes. I have made all kinds and styles of baskets. The rope is nice to work with, and lends itself to creativity.

In addition to making roping baskets, I ranch with my husband Chris, Chris' parents Bill and Hilda, and our son Adam and his wife Kari. Our younger son, Ethan, runs a wine tasting room in Sonoma, California.


Carla's talent is not only fun and creative, it is a great way to recycle old rope material on the ranch. Carla has had her rope art showcased in galleries and is often found as a centerpiece to tables across the county. Outside the ranch you can find Carla involved and supportive in the community through leadership on the Ladies Bowling League to being involved in cattle organizations and teaching young people about livestock.

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