June 11, 2002
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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Sisters, Oregon
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Local lady graces national cover
By Shawn Strannigan

Debra Pearson and her cover.
Country Woman, a lifestyle magazine with a readership spread throughout the U.S. and Canada, recently featured Sisters area resident, Debra Pearson, on its cover.

The periodical also ran a story highlighting Pearson's pine needle basketry and her instructional video.

Pearson, who moved to the Sisters area in the 1980s, says she "fell in love" with the pine needle baskets she saw in several galleries around town.

"They were really expensive," Pearson said. "So I bought a how-to book and taught myself how to make them."

As she became proficient in the craft, people began asking Pearson to give lessons. She felt the classroom setting was too large for such an intricate art and decided to make an instructional video instead. She had the video shot over her shoulder so the instructions would be easier to follow.

Pearson struggled to sell her videos until she contacted Country Woman concerning her craft.

"I told them that I made pine needle baskets and thought my story would be a fit for their magazine," she said. "I sent pictures of me with the baskets."

The photos Pearson sent were just ordinary snapshots -- they were shots strategically taken by her husband, Brad.

"Brad insisted I be on the cover," said Pearson. "He took a Country Woman cover, cut out the picture on the front and put mine in.

"He must have convinced them!"

Country Woman responded to Pearson's query and sent her a lengthy questionnaire to complete.

"They never called and interviewed me, they just had me answer a lot of questions in story form," she said. "That's what they used for the article."

According to Pearson, her video sales have exploded since the story appeared.

"I've had over 1,200 calls from people who saw the story," said Pearson. "I've probably sold over 350 videos. Life has been busy, but it's fun."

She's been so busy that she hasn't had the time to make any baskets lately.

"I've made more than 70 baskets since I started," said Pearson. "When I get more time, I also want to learn how to do gourd art and incorporate the pine needles into that."

Folks of all skill levels can learn to make pine needle baskets, Pearson insists.

"I think anyone can do it," she said. "In the article in Country Woman, I asked readers to send pictures of the baskets they made. So far, only one woman has, and she's an 80 year old grandma from back East. Believe me, if she can do it, anyone can! Patience is the only skill required."

Pearson sells her videos for $25, which includes shipping and handling. She can be contacted by email at: needlesnpoints@bendnet.com, or at: 11180 N.W. Kingwood Drive, Redmond, OR 97756.

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