Born and raised in Colby, WI, Milton W. Prien worked 26 years in the Air Force repairing B-52 bombers among other things, and playing French horn in the Air Force Band. Upon retiring in 1974 from Andrews Air Force Base, he moved to Paducah, KY to enjoy fishing, but soon became bored. He went back to work for several years for Wilco in Louisville.
Milton began working in wood after taking a shop class at Scottsville High School, learning basic wood-working and woodturning. While visiting his mom in Wisconsin he saw his first collapsible wooden basket. Tracking down the Wisconsin basket making craftsman, he purchased a truckload of the baskets to re-sell in Kentucky.
In 1985, Milton realized that he could produce these baskets himself. Beginning with 40 different patterns, he identified the best selling patterns and now creates seven in several sizes. Together with four other family members, Milton creates around 2,000 baskets a month.
Milton creates these collapsible baskets by cutting at an angle so that each layer marries with the band beneath, allowing them to stay up. Using kiln dried native Red Oak purchased from a local sawmill, these baskets are band saw cut, hand sanded and dipped in liquid vegetable oil to make them pliable and food safe.
Attaching a bottom allows these baskets to serve as a cutting board when turned upside down.
Baskets created by Milton Prien can be found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.