Over the 25 years Fred and Della Cruz have been partners, they have created unique works of art, shared their heritage and provided demonstrations to educate the public regarding all aspects of the Tohono O’odham tradition of basket weaving.
Della and Fred weave “basket necklaces” which are small, lidded baskets with dangling shell ornamentation, strung on leather to be worn around the neck. These necklaces are meant to hold something of special personal meaning to the wearer, such as a rosary, or a bit of sage or creosote. These necklaces are often worn for strength during the long walk on pilgrimages to Magdalena, in Sonora, Mexico. Other times, salt is placed inside a basket necklace for a significant journey to the Gulf of California in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
Della learned to weave at age 5 while growing up in a small rural village near Sells on Tohono O’Odham Nation land in Arizona. Her mother taught her the intricate details of this lengthy process and as Della explored the “ways of weaving” over the years, it became an artistic calling for her. Later, she developed an idea for the three dimensional, figurative basket designs that she and Fred have become known for. Della particularly enjoys creating desert animal figures and likes to incorporate designs reflecting the seasons, such as the Saguaro Fruit Harvest.
Fred was born in Sells, Arizona and lived in Dirt Burn Village when he was a boy. As a child, Fred helped his family gather, clean and prepare Sonoran Desert plant materials such as yucca, beargrass, and devil’s claw to weave into traditional baskets. When weaving, Fred repeats a pattern until he knows when he’s ready to move on to another design. He said: “as an artist, you just know when you are ready to develop your own new technique”. Shop a special collection of Della & Fred's baskets here>>