Last week I was in Harrogate for the basketmakers association spring school. I was very fortunate to spend the week making square baskets with 7 other basket makers under the watchful eye of Jenny Crisp.
Learning Jenny’s tips and techniques was just brilliant. One the first day we made two different square bases. One was the traditional screw block base and the other a jenny invention.
The remaining three days were spent creating two square baskets, practising keeping the shape and borders with different sorts of corners. Jenny brought lots of lovely different willows with her. The tall basket is made with a mixture of Dicky Meadows, Black French and Petite Grisette. The reddish one was something steamed from Jenny’s freezer 😊
A short video showing the process of making skeins. Slow but satisfying. The willow is cleaved into three pieces and each piece passed through a shave until it is the desired thickness. An upright shave is used to obtain the desired width.
This basket was made on a hoop, Catalan style. But I didn’t really plan it first, always an error. The stakes ended up a little too close which had an impact on the border.
The white willow I used was also a bit old and scrappy so the border has splits and kinks where I don’t want them. However I love my homegrown willow that I’ve used for weaving the sides and it’s always good to learn from your mistakes.
Having completed my own harvest this year I had some larger material that is suitable for hoop making. So this week I’ve made a variety of square and circular shapes for future baskets. They need to spend some weeks drying out naturally. A process which can be sped up near a source of heat.
From the off cuts I’ve made some fruit shaped platters. Just for fun 😊
Another year has begun, and so I look forward to new projects and challenges. This week I’ve been making samples of lamp bases for a lighting company. It’s been great fun although very cold in the workshop. It’s not well insulated so colder than outside in the winter and hotter than outside in the summer! Lots of layers on this week.
Well my modest willow harvest is cut and sorted. I’m so grateful there was any willow to actually harvest after the local muntjac have spent the last two years chewing my cuttings. The electric fence we put up to deter them has had very little effect.
I have seven different varieties growing, Black Maul, Dicky Meadows, Chermisina, Flanders Red, Green Dicks, Harrison’s and welsh white.
Many of the cuttings are dead and need to be replaced. However I’m loath to plant anything else until I get a more permanent fence in place. Hopefully this is going to happen in the next month which would mean I could still do some planting.
My lovely new storage shed doubled up as a sorting station, with chalk marks on the side denoting different heights and a dust bin to hold the bundles steady. It’s been a fun job and the colours are beautiful. Hopefully there’ll be a lot more next year 😊
My finished collection of rush baskets ready for @star_wing_brewery craft fair tomorrow and Saturday. Made with an armful of rush I harvested from the River Gipping this summer it’s been lovely to work with and a joy to know it has come from down the road.
Thanks again to my son @aidanduxon for the photos 😊
My last class of 2021 for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust at Redgrave and Lopham fen. A wild day outside but 10 super creative ladies inside. Prolific making of all sorts of Christmas decorations as you can see. 😊