We were working with willow, mainly, though Michelle, our lovely teacher, had brought some other materials to mix in if we wanted to. We all made circular based, straight sided baskets (apparently rectangular baskets are a lot more advanced) but she was happy for us to have any size of base and sides we wanted. Most people went for log baskets, but I decided on a shallow tray. We already have a log basket and if I made another one Pebble would only claim it.
We learnt how to start the base with relatively thick sticks (Michelle did teach us all the jargon as we went along, but I've forgotten most of it), making holes in three of them and poking another three through. After a couple of rounds with thin weavers, these thick pieces are bent so they splay out like the spokes of a wheel, then weaving continues, always trying to keep the spokes evenly spread and forming a slight dome for strength (this was more relevant to log baskets; I ignored it for my tray).
When the bases were finished we learnt how to add the uprights - this involved lots of bashing. In fact, the bashing thing seemed to be quite an important tool for much of the work. The we learnt how to do the upset - one piece of jargon I remember, not meaning to annoy the basket but to set the upright bit on its way - before learning a new weaving pattern for the sides. To finish off, the uprights were bent over and woven into themselves, then handles were added. I have to admit that Michelle did the handles for me as I found the twisting of the willow to
ropeit too difficult. However, I did most of the rest of it myself, and I'm very pleased with the result.
I didn't get many pictures because mostly I was concentrating too hard on the classes, but here's one of Michelle teaching one of the other students.
Before each class the baskets needed soaking so that the willow would be workable again after a week of drying out. As they got bigger this got more difficult, particularly right in the middle where you have the base finished and all the uprights at their full length. Michelle asked if we were OK to soak them at home -
You'll need a stream or something(she would have done it for us if necessary) - it said a lot about our location that pretty much everyone in the class said,
Yes, we could manage that.
Our stream turned out not to be quite deep enough, even when I went over the railway line to a different part of it. I turned the basket several times during the afternoon but it was still quite stiff when I took it the class in the evening.
Here's a rather dark picture of the finished basket...
... and here it is full of paper pots on their way to the greenhouse, which is why I haven't taken a daylit picture of it (still full of pots).
I really enjoyed the process and loved Michelle's attitude to using different materials. She's really inspired me to search the hedgerows for likely-looking shoots. Now I just need an excuse to make more baskets (until I get bored and move onto something else).