Billy Hammond Photos | Digital Traditions

Grover "Billy" Hammond, a native of Clarks Hill in McCormick County, exemplified the important craft of split-oak basketmaking in South Carolina. The thin strips – or splits – that can be riven from white oak have been an essential resource in the state's agricultural history. White oak splits are at once flexible and rigid, providing the durability and adaptability needed on the farm. Split-oak basketmakers have worked with a small number of basic weaving patterns to produce an impressive variety of products, from chair seat to cotton hamper.

Skilled basketmakers like Hammond are able to add a further aesthetic dimension to their work. The traditional fish traps that Billy Hammond made have been primarily utilitarian. After retirement he was been able to focus his attention on the craft and expand his artistic output. In his baskets, Hammond used the darker oak heartwood to form a decorative contrast. He gave generously of his time to spreading knowledge of the craft, demonstrating at numerous craft fairs and living history exhibits throughout South Carolina. Hammond received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage award in 1990.