Willow and what it can be used for…
Growing within the UK The Salix species contains over 350 genera, of those the most common to be seen are Salix Alba, Cinera, Cuprea (goat), Crack, Bay and Osier.
Of the above list only osier willow is best for basket weaving. The varieties Purpurea and Triandra being the most commonly used. Viminalis is also used for larger structures.
The willow that is used for weaving is of the plant variety, that grows as a crop and harvested each year, or coppiced. The main trunk from which the willow is coppiced is called a ‘stool’ and is rarely taller than 8 – 12 inches. The tall bending variety is crack willow which cannot be used for weaving as it isn’t suitable.
Willows properties make it an ideal, strong yet flexible material for making things. There are 3 steps in the willow preparation process, harvesting, drying to remove the sap and soaking to make it flexible. If the willow has been freshly harvested, normally during December to March then the soaking process is not required. Once ready, it can be weaved to make baskets, animal sculptures, fences, and wreaths.
Where willow is found…
Believe it or not, there are over 350 species of willow. Mainly found north of the equator it grows best on moist soils in cooler temperate regions. The trees are more commonly found in the Northern Hemisphere- US, Mexico and European countries and this is where you will find the craft of willow weaving.
Weaving with willow is an ancient art, the techniques were traditionally passed down through the generations. To become an accomplished willow weaver it takes training, patience and practice.
Meet accomplished willow weaving tutor
Chris is a skilled basket maker and weaver. Chris is a 3D artist who has enjoyed discovering willow as a material.
Chris learnt basket making from Jane Jennifer in Diss on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Jane’s teaching has a 100 year heritage linked to the Woods family of Norfolk. As a member of the Basketmakers’ Association Chris shares their aim “to promote the knowledge of basketry, chair seating and allied crafts…” Chris uses Nottinghamshire harvested willow when she can, growing a few varieties herself, but also buys commercially farmed willow from a family business in Somerset.
“Chris has worked with us for a few years now and delivers all of our Willow Weaving Workshops. She has a fantastic sense of humour, very down to earth with exceptional talent and skill. Her workshops are fun and informative, she never fails at ensuring the customers walk away happy with their woven sculpture” – Amanda, Events Host at Rural Antics
Fancy giving willow weaving a go? Chris is delivering the following workshops:
- Beginners Willow – Friday 28th February 10am to 4pm
- Garden Plant Obelisk – Sunday 9th February 2020 10am to 4pm – SOLD OUT
- Chicken – Saturday 15th March 10am to 4pm
- Garden Plant Obelisk – Sunday 25th October 2020 10am to 4pm
Remember all materials, tools and refreshments are included in all workshops. A 2-course homemade lunch served with a glass of wine is included in full day workshops.
Check out our full range of workshops click here