I have just finished a project that has been on the go for many months. Making replica tumbler covers for a 100 year picnic set.
The covers provide protection for the glasses whilst they are being transported. They are made from very fine white willow skeins. The skeins start as 7ft willow rods. These are split into 3 pieces using a cleave. Then each piece is passed by hand through 2 shaves. One gives you the correct thickness and the other the correct width.
It’s a time consuming process but one that can be meditative in its repetition. The skeins alone took many hours to prepare. Even though I lock the shaves in place with a clamp, I found I could only shave the willow for 2-3 hours at a time before the tension required to pull the willow through started to produce warnings pains and numbness in my hands.
Each cover took 5-6 hours to weave. There were three different types. The difference coming from either the size, the start or the finish or a combination of these. So it’s all taken some deciphering and a lot of patience.
Today they are winging their way back home to America and I really hope their owner will be pleased with the final pieces. 😊
Delighted to be taking part in Sarah Kirby’s open studio.
Sarah is a an artist and print maker based in Leicester. A lot of her inspiration is taken from Leicester’s buildings and gardens. I love the way she sees her subject matter, creating unique prints of so many beautiful places.
Maryanne McGinn (@turnaleg) will also be selling her beautifully carved and decorated spoons. So please do come along if you can and see all the wonderful work on display. It will be open every Saturday in August 11-4pm. Details in the top photo.
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 😊