News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 10, 2012

Basket Gal at the Vigo County Fair

TERRE HAUTE — Now a high school math teacher, Michele Stahly has not forgotten basket weaving skills she learned in 4-H, a skill she has turned into a business — Gal’s Baskets.

Stahly has been involved in Vigo County 4-H since about age 6, first joining mini 4-H. She showed cattle, and later served on the 4-H Council for several years.

But it was a basket weaving workshop she took with Missy Daughtery that made a lasting impression with the 27-year-old Terre Haute South Vigo High School teacher.

“When I got out of college, just trying to make some extra money, I started weaving and going to different festivals,” Stahly said. “I just enjoyed it and I keep doing it in my spare time.”

Stahly, a native of rural West Terre Haute, graduated from Indiana State University in 2007. This week she is busy making and selling baskets during the Vigo County Fair at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.

Stahly also regularly participates in the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival at Bridgeton and in festivals in Elnora and at Marshall, Ill.

“It is a side thing, but I do this year-round. I go to a lot of festivals in the fall,” she said.

A future goal is to set up her own shop.

“I would love to have a shop and have classes and sell materials, because you can’t really find materials for baskets around here. You have to order it all online mostly,” Stahly said.

Stahly can make up to 13 baskets a day. She also tries to create something special when she works, using a wrench, a potato masher, coke bottle opener, melon baller or even a small horse bit for basket handles.

“I want to make something unique,” she said.

Her mother, Rosa Puller, helps out by staining reed different colors, such as red or purple, which Stahly weaves into some baskets to add a different look. Her baskets in the Exhibition Hall at the Vigo County Fair range in size from two inches at the base to much larger, such as a 14-inch long tray basket. Stahly can make baskets even larger. Most of the baskets have a wooden base to make them more practical for daily use, she said.

She also takes special requests, noting that at the Covered Bridge Festival a person might ask for a certain type of basket in the morning, then return that evening to pick up the finished product.

Stahly got the idea to name her business from her older brother, Michael Puller, who at about age 3 could not pronounce Michele, but instead started calling his little sister “Gal,” Rosa Puller said.

“The name stuck,” Stahly said. “Even my husband (Daniel Stahly) is now starting to call me that. I am just used to it.”

Stahly can be contacted at Gal’s Baskets at (812) 208-5940 or via email at Tractorgal03@aol.com or on Facebook at Gal’s Baskets.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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