Nantucket Lightship Basket Author | Basketmaker Martha Lawrence

Nantucket Lightship Baskets

by Martha Lawrence: 1945-2023

Martha Lawrence Beeman passed away peacefully on May 6, 2023 after a short illness. Beloved by all who knew her, Martha was a devoted mother, grandmother, wife, and friend. Born on December 10, 1945, Martha was passionate about living life to the fullest -- her boundless energy enabling her to pursue her many passions: painting, photography, tennis, writing, learning, teaching, and nurturing relationships with her family and friends. And, of course, Nantucket Lightship Baskets. The world is a little dimmer with the loss of her glow. We will cherish the times we had with her.

Speaking at the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum in front of the recreation of Jose Reyes' Workshop

Since childhood, Martha Lawrence summered in Nantucket - the third generation of a family of artists who drew inspiration from the island. Summers were spent exploring moors, beaches, wharves and museums or watching her grandfather carve ships' figureheads in his harbor-side shop. Such experiences instilled in her a profound appreciation for both Nantucket's heritage and the elements of fine craftsmanship.

Her Nantucket ties were strengthened in adulthood when, after graduation from Simmons College, she married into a Nantucket family. During subsequent periods spent living on the island, she developed a long held interest in Nantucket Lightship Baskets and studied the art with island basketmakers who generously shared their knowledge.

For the last thirty years she has been constructing Nantucket Lightship Baskets. Her work is found in collections both in the United States and abroad. The 1990 publication of her book, Lightship Baskets of Nantucket, established her as an authority on both the history and contemporary status of the art. Scrimshaw, the Whaler's Legacy, the result of her research into the related art of scrimshaw, was published three years later. She continues to author articles on the subject.

As well as creating baskets, she gives talks on the subject. Martha lives and teaches in Vero Beach, Florida.

Commissions: Martha will design a customized basket of whatever size, shape or purpose suits your needs. It can be further personalized with adornments of scrimshaw or ivory carvings.

Workshops: Create your own heirloom under Martha's careful tutelage. From this pleasurable experience, you will take away not only a beautifully-crafted basket but the knowledge to make more on your own. Organize a class in your area and Martha will travel to you. Or, visit her in Vero Beach.

Then and Now...

Nantucket 1949

Vero Beach 2015


Email Martha

Or Call: 772-643-1542