Coppicing willow

Now that all the leaves have fallen from the willows it is time to cut them right back to the base of the stool.

In some countries where they do not have much snow they often wait until the beginning of the new year, but here if we wait too long, we may not be able to get to the base of the willows until April.

I planted this golden willow in my garden five years ago, and now it goes mad every year...it loved the wet summer and you can see from the photos it is well over my head, and much too branched fro basketry, but useful for sculptures. . It was cut right back last fall.

If kept in a dry cool location it will stay pliable for months and keep the golden colour.

It is a good idea to divide the willow into separate bundles according to length. With a lot of willow it is easier to put the whole bundle into a barrel and scoop up the tall ones, then the middle length and so on. In England I saw them using a sunken barrel which would be much easier on the back.

 Willows are better kept standing on their butts, straight up, so they do not get bowed. Kept dry and cool they will last for years.

Latest news from the Basketry Museum

This is the first of a regular blog for the basketry museum and the subject is… surprise...Christmas!!

Firstly, a small idea for a stocking stuff for your family.

A little soap trivet and a piece of soap

You will need some coloured round reed, or some fairly fine pieces of willow, and a piece of soap.

The technique for the little trivet is called ‘a tension tray’ and very simple to make, but it is important to have the right materials.

Take a piece of thicker material about 32” long, and form it into a small oval (see photo), and cut two pieces a little wider than the width of the oval about 5” long.

Cut about 25 pieces 6”long of the finer material.

Now start weaving, the first piece is placed under the end of the oval, over one piece, and under one piece and over the end., hold in place. The second piece goes under the OTHER end over the first piece under the second piece and over the end. These two pieces should hold the sticks in place. See photo. Now continue, always starting with the new piece placed under the oval frame, over under and over. Once you get started it is very easy and quick to weave. Fill in as many pieces as you can, then cut off all the overlapping pieces. 

This technique can be used for making cheese trays, using white or buff willow. See photo.

Looking for ideas for presents for yourself or friends?

Basketry Books

Two good willow books are:

" Willow Basketry" by Bernard and Regula Verdet-Feirz.

“Basket making in Ireland” by Joe Hogan

*The Best of the Basketry Express1985-90

*Another Best of the Basketry Express 1990-1995

*Yet Another of theBasketry Express 1995-2000

*The Use of Cattails, Rushes and Grasses in the Textile Arts 

*These are available from the Basketry Museum