By Skiff and Basket: Clamming in Essex


With a grant from the Essex County Community Foundation the Essex Shipbuilding Museum is hosting events around the construction of a traditional clamming skiff and clam basket making workshops.

The skiff under construction in our shipyard is a re-creation of a traditional Essex Clam Skiff and is a collaboration between ESM and the Topsfield Vocational Academy. Under the guidance and instruction of our staff boatbuilder Jeff Lane, the students have completed all aspects of the build from choosing and milling lumber, lofting the design, and building the skiff. This is our third year of our partnership with TVA and in that time students have built other vessels such as a Grand Banks Dory for the Schooner Adventure and helped maintain the Schooner Lewis H. Story.

Master Basket Maker Billy Ray Sims is re-creating a traditional Essex Clam Basket for our exhibit but also to inform the instruction of basket making workshops in our Waterline Center throughout the summer and fall of 2019. Learn more about his work at

Are you a clammer or a basket collector and have something to you would like to share? ESM is looking for anything from family stories to baskets and photographs! Please get it touch with Chris at 978-768-7541 or

Events Coming Up!

May 19, 2019 Basket Making Workshop

May 31, 2019 Students will launch and row the skiff.

June 8, 2019 By Skiff and Basket Exhibit opens

June 8, 2019 Spring in the Shipyard Fundraiser: Come see the exhibit, have some clams, and join in the celebration of all the hard work!

June 23rd, 2019 Basket Making Workshop

September 8th, 2019 Basket Making Workshop

September 15th, 2019 Basket Making Workshop

ECCF Combo Logo.png

This project is funded in part by a grant of Essex County Community Foundation's Creative County Initiative (CCI), a collaboration with the Barr Foundation designed to elevate Essex County's art and culture sector and support our local creative economy.  The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum is the recipient of one of 11 CCI grants awarded to serve Essex County communities through public art and creative placemaking projects. 

For more information about the Creative County Initiative, visit and, a new online arts calendar and resource hub for Essex County's creative sector.

About ECCF

The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to strengthen the communities of Essex County. We do this by promoting philanthropy and managing charitable assets, making grants and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its family of more than 200 charitable funds have granted more than $53 million to nonprofits, schools and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s 750,000 residents. Learn more at