Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge

Basket weaving

I’ve been so busy organising events, classes and interesting things, that I never actually get to do any of the interesting things myself. My life has been such a sprint, I get to skim everything or have a rough idea of what is involved, but not to take time and focus and do a thing. So When Monique Bervoets came to the Tree house to do a workshop in willow weaving of Scandinavian Berry Baskets- I thought i’d suspend my whirlwind a while and join & & make a basket myself.

these are monique’s hands showing the first stages. These baskets are sort of made upside down to be fast, achievable and teach a lot of basics.

These are the baskets in progress. I wrote a blog with lots more general photos over on the Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group’s website.
I Loved every moment of it. Things have been so hectic of late that i haven’t really got my feet on the ground and have hardly been at home, who am i ?  what could be more tactile, grounding and satisfying that making a basket, a container out of sticks? The willow whips have a great smell and yield beautifully in the hands once you get a feel for the wood. Though I have spent my life looking at baskets and working out how things are made, Monique was able to open lots of doors for me, tricks i hadn’t worked out just from looking. I love the feel of the knife through the wood to peel away the end bit and make a flat twisty bit, i love when you ‘crank’ twist the whips to unravel the fibres, and you can feel the wood unfold in your hands. Monique described moulding the willow as being like ‘clay’, maybe i just miss my pottery!  But to create functional forms is a primal pleasure.

Other peoples baskets looked much neater to me, but I finished early, i suppose a mixture of impetuous desire to learn the next bit , and the knowledge that i had a tight schedule slipping away from my weaving fingers.

Ive tried basket weaving before, but instead of buying in pre-prepared willows, what i have attempted to do is just use there and then fresh green sticks i have trimmed in the garden. It turns out that these are really difficult to weave with. Armed with a little more knowledge i am trying again, I trimmed some garden trees today ( ha! a power cut stopped me getting on with a horrible computer work list ) and took time out to work the trimmings. If i can’t work them in the immediate future I will save, dry out and re soak them to see what happens. the cypress and hemlock twigs were nice and bendy, crab apple too, but none long and thick enough to make enough uprights, the bits of willow I have from an arch I’m growing were too fat and pithy, splitting too easily. I will go on a hunt… there has to be something out there that can be happy to be harvested and used right away?  I have the basket bug!

I also have a garden path full of sweet smelling freshly stripped leaves, bark and whittlings, which in themselves also give me great pleasure. Trees are great, especially at this time of year when they are bursting into sweet smelling life. ahhhh…..

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This entry was posted on May 21, 2012 by in Blog.

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