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Deborah Smith was born and raised in the picturesque Hudson Valley of New York. She began her basket-making career, on pure chance, in 1991, when she and her children enrolled in a basket-making class, as a way of passing time creatively. She took to the medium immediately. While initially drawn to the simplicity and economy of Shaker baskets, she soon began to experiment with a freer, more sculptural kind of basket weaving. Using the ribbed technique that she taught herself through the study of the Appalachian egg basket, she incorporates this weaving style into the pieces of driftwood she collects along the banks of the Hudson River, Lake Ontario, the coast of Maine, and lakes and rivers in between.