Willow and what it can be used for…
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 400 species of willow, a mix of deciduous trees and shrubs. But not all of them are suitable for weaving, the varieties most commonly used are Salix Purpurea and Salix Triandra. 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 is an ancient art, the techniques have been 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, her artistic expression began with fine art before discovering willow. Learning her weaving skills from Jane Jennifer in Diss on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Jane is linked to the Ronnie Woods family, who has made baskets for over 100 years. As a member of the Basketmakers’ Association Chris shares their aim “to promote the knowledge of basketry, chair seating and allied crafts…” Chris mostly uses Somerset willow but does try to use Nottinghamshire harvested willow when ever possible.
“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 piece” – Amanda, Events Host at Rural Antics
Fancy giving willow weaving a go? Chris is delivering the following workshops:
- Angel – Saturday 30th November 9.45am to 12.15pm
- Trees and Stars Christmas Garland – Saturday 30th November 1pm to 3.30pm
- Chicken – Sunday 19th January 2020 10am to 4pm
- Garden Plant Obelisk – Sunday 9th February 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