Erected in 1804, the Charleston City Market exists as one of the oldest public markets in the United States, and is home to more than 300 local vendors, including 56 artisans who weave sweetgrass baskets, one of the region’s prized indigenous crafts. One such artisan is Corey Alston, a fifth generation weaver located at the fore of the Charleston City Market due to his exquisite mastery of the artform and amiable disposition.
Perfecting his craft for 14 years, Corey takes pride in keeping the Gullah culture alive. “Gullah” is a lyrical word used to describe the linguistic and cultural heritage of local sea island inhabitants who descended from Africa. The Gullah imprint on Charleston culture runs deep, from the soulful flavors of Lowcountry cuisine to the coils of artistry woven into each handcrafted sweetgrass basket. Originally made to winnow rice on the plantations, the baskets have become sought after objects of work and are even on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
“I like to think bigger than myself. What can I do to keep the Gullah culture alive? What can I do to keep the Gullah culture in the minds of others? I won’t let it die.”
Searching for modern ways to keep the Gullah culture alive, Corey created the “Build Your Sweetgrass Basket” app, a 3D configuration application that allows the user to customize a one-of-a-kind sweetgrass basket. Cost and estimated days to complete the design are projected based on the user’s selection of base, rim, lid, handle, and intricate details.
“Sweetgrass baskets are a dying artform and I enjoy keeping this Gullah tradition alive through modern technology.”
Treasure your very own piece of Gullah artwork by customizing a unique sweetgrass basket handwoven by Corey, or by visiting the vivacious Charleston City Market!