About 4 or 5 years ago now, I spent a day learning the basics of willow basketry. It is a skill that requires patience and many hours of practice to actually achieve a fine result. You need plenty of space to weave the rods without them catching on the furniture and you also need very strong hands to push, pull, wedge, squeeze and hold the material in position, whilst keeping it neat, tidy and regular.
The main reason I tried to learn this skill is for techniques to build plant supports. Each Spring we need to provide supports for our floppy perennials and for this we mainly use coppiced hazel from the woods, held together with more pliable willow. Fortunately for me the finished product isn’t as fiddly as a fine basket, can be constructed quickly in situ and only needs to last a year.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been rained off work on more than one occasion and have found myself indoors for the odd morning or afternoon and in need of a project. As we have harvested our willow, thoughts turned to making a trug-like basket. Last year we had nothing to collect our produce in from the veg patch except plastic bags and boxes, which somehow just didn’t feel right with me.
Home grown willow to home made baskets. Far from perfection but a very satisfying process, an enjoyable way to pass the time on rainy days and a useful product at the end of it. All for free.