From Hobby to Business: The Scarparis’ Artful Pursuit of Handmade Baskets

Elderly Billings couple staying active with their basket-weaving business

Jill and Paul Scarpari have a passion for creating handmade baskets that began in the early 90s. After accumulating a large number of baskets, they decided to turn their hobby into a business. Jill attended her first basket-making class in 1991 and was immediately hooked on the craft.

Paul, inspired by his wife’s creations, attempted to make a basket himself in 1995. Initially, his first basket was a flop, but he persisted until he mastered the art. From simple baskets that couldn’t hold their shape to intricate designs that stand on their own, the Scarparis found joy in creating various types of baskets. Their family members grew tired of receiving baskets as gifts, prompting them to start selling their creations.

Although Scarpari Baskets can be found in local stores and galleries, creating these baskets is more than just a business for the couple. They enjoy the process and find it fulfilling to have a hobby that keeps them busy during retirement. Their baskets range from small pine needle pieces to larger functional ones like hampers and backpacks, taking days of work to complete.

Jill and Paul Scarpari have found a way to turn their passion for basket-making into a fulfilling retirement activity that also benefits their community. Their baskets are available for purchase at Frae in Shiloh Commons and Three Rivers Gallery in Big Timber, with prices ranging from $20 to $300.

Sophia Reynolds

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