I meet so many lovely people doing my job and today was no exception. A rush workshop at the Butterfly Studio in Terling, Essex. It’s a very pretty, tranquil corner of the county. Made all the more pleasant by the warm weather today.
The owners, Brian and Julie, couldn’t have been more welcoming. The workshop space is bright, airy and beautifully decorated. There was a separate dining area where we were treated to a delicious lunch. Tea and cake abounded throughout the day as well.
Gill, Cathy, Sandra and Sue all completed two pieces. We started with a brush. It’s a simple project that allows students new to rush to get a feel for the material. Three of the ladies chose to make a placemat for their second piece whilst Sue plumped for a box. Both these pieces start with a central weave. Check weave is the most straight forward but the placemats were started with an over 2 under 1 twill. This is followed by several rows of pairing before adding a border. The box was made over a mould which presents different challenges to a flat piece.
Everyone worked really hard and they were delightful company. What a lovely start to the week.
Rush samples finished for tomorrow’s workshop at the Butterfly art and craft studio in Terling, Essex. A couple of brushes, a pot and a placemat.
I’m really looking forward to teaching rush and this photo shows you the kind of placemat you can make at my rush workshop on 26th May.
Fabulous day with Wendy, Annie and Di. They all made wonderful baskets and worked so hard. It’s asking a lot of first time basket makers to concentrate on the form, the weaving and all the terminology. It’s hard to take it all in, but by working through each step one at a time it is so achievable. They did brilliantly.
Lovely morning with Glynis, Sharyn and 8 week old Lenny. What a cuddly distraction! Great plant supports and well done to Lenny for being such a good boy.
I’ve had a productive day today. So lovely to have full day in thevworkshop. Finished this shoe basket today for friends that got married last Saturday. I love the softness the square base to round shape gives. It’s a fair size but that’s just as well, his feet are size 15 and hers size 8!
Another bird feeder! This time from Johnathon Ridgeon’s book. I’m making several examples for a class I’m running later in the year.
Small willow bird table. The recipe can be found in Jo Hammond’s book, ‘willow basketry and sculpture’. Its very easy to make. Apples are secured with willow stakes,strings ofpeanuts could be hung from it too.
It would be easy to put a shallow lip on all the way round if you wanted to.
Chunky and fine cordage made from the stripple collected from PH Coates in Somerset on Monday.
Stripple is the bark stripped from boiled brown willow to make buff. It smells amazing and is very strong. I have roughly 8 metres of the chunky cord, and am hoping to coil this into a simple basket and then use the finer cordage for handles.
I’ve had a lovely day today with Caroline and Marion. They wanted to practice making bases to improve their basketry techniques. They worked really hard making 2 bases each. We turned one into a mat by adding a simple border to the edge and the other into a shallow basket.
Marion chose a traditional round shape whilst Caroline just a more organic bowl shape.
I had a marvellous day in Somerset on Monday. Three friends and I visited Somerset Willow growers and PH Coates. We were met with a very warm welcome and shown around the farms.
It was great to see the willow harvest, sorting and processing in person. It has greatly increased my understanding and appreciation of this material. It is all very labour intensive especially the sorting which is done by hand.
The buff willow is made by boiling brown willow in the boiling tank for approx 10 hours. The bark is then stripped off using a machine. Although I’ve read about this process I hadn’t appreciated it fully. The machine at Somerset willow growers can take a bundle of willow at a time. This must be spread in a thin layer and clamped in a holder. It is then pushed into a drum of rotating teeth. Once the bark is stripped from one half the willow must be turned around and the process repeated.
The stripped bark is called stripple, what a great word! We brought a big bag back with us to experiment with. Results to follow…