News

Our business is both seasonal, and event driven, so we're always doing lots of different and interesting things. Here are a few items of news which may be of interest to our readers.

News

City Lit Basketry Course - Year 2

Posted 5th September, 2016 in categories Our Business, Crafts

Year two of the City Lit Basketry Course starts for Catherine in London on Thursday 15th September 2016. The first year was amazing and I learnt so much, so really looking forward to year two.

Oxford Summer School Workshop 2016

Posted 5th September, 2016 in categories Our Business, Crafts

Oxford Summer School 2016 logo. Photo by Oxford Summer School.

Catherine went to the Oxford Summer School for a second year, from Monday 25th to Thursday 28th July 2016. The four day basket making course taught by Mary Butcher was once again a wonderful learning experience.

Mary juggled the group of students, who were all making different willow items, with seeming ease - and there was always something to watch and learn even when not working on your own piece.

This year I made a rectangular tool basket with a central divider and hazel wood handle, along with an oval basket made with a french rand base (no warping when using this technique) and incorporating some willow bark into the side weaving. I have never used bark before, but will definitely be collecting some next early spring.

City Lit Basketry Course - Year 1

Posted 5th September, 2016 in categories Our Business, Crafts

17th September 2015, was the start of the two year long City Lit Basketry Course. I (Catherine) had considered doing this course 2 years ago when the last cohort started, but then was not quite the right time in my life. Come September 2015, the timing was better, so I decided to take the plunge and commit to the course.

There is such a lot to learn about basketry beyond the willow that I have always worked with, so I was really looking forward to the course.

Oxford Summer School Workshop 2015

Posted 23rd July, 2015 in categories Our Business, Crafts

Oxford Summer School 2015 logo. Photo by Oxford Summer School.

Catherine will be updating her skills at a four day willow basketmaking workshop run by Mary Butcher as part of the Oxford Summer School. Mary is a highly respected basket maker and teacher, and Catherine has been on her courses before.

Elderflower Champagne

Posted 18th June, 2015 in category Foraging

Elderflower champagne ingredients, just add water.

There seems to be a very good crop of Elderflowers this year, and now is the time to make Elderflower Champagne. This fabulously refreshing summer drink needs only a few flower heads, a lemon, some white wine vinegar, sugar and water. There's a good recipe by Dave Roberts which I've used for a couple of years now, with excellent result.

It's important to sterilise all your containers and equiment before use, and to check regularly on the fermentation of the champagne. Make sure you inspect the bottles daily and release a little pressure to avoid your bottles exploding - even if you keep them in the fridge, fermentation will continue!

Basketry Of The Year Competition 2015

Posted 16th May, 2015 in categories Latest Work, Our Business

Catherine's entry to the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers Basketry Of The Year Competition 2015.

The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers has, this year, started an annual competition. In doing so, it aims both to collect a record of contemporary basketry and to promote British Basketmaking. Since Catherine is a Members of the Basketmakers’ Association, she has submitted one of her latest pieces, shown above for consideration.

The deadline for entries is 29th May 2015, judging takes place in June and the three winning baskets will be on display at their Trade Dinner in London on 15th July.

Foraged materials for basket making

Posted 21st March, 2015 in category Foraging

Basket making materials, foraged from in and around Leicester and Melton Mowbray.

We've been out foraging for materials from several places in Leicester and Melton Mowbray, with the appropriate permission. This is some of what we collected earlier in the year. It's just coming to the end of the foraging season now, as plants like willow and dogwood come back into leaf.

These materials are great for basket making and have a beatuiful variety of colours and textures. The willow with the fluffy buds came from a friend's allotment, and the bright red dogwood, from Jeff's garden.

Christmas wreath

Posted 19th January, 2015 in category Crafts

Christmas wreath, made with foraged evergreen foliage on a simple willow ring.

Before Christmas, Jeff helped his friend Leigh to make a pair of wreathes to decorate her home. We foraged some evergreen foliage which she arranged on a simple willow ring, and fixed with garden wire. Here's the finished wreath, hanging from a ribbon in her hallway.

Recycled T-shirt fabric projects

Posted 12th January, 2015 in category Crafts

Catherine has been crocheting with recycled T-shirt fabrics using a large wooden crochet hook.

Two crocheted bags, made from recycled Jersey cotton yarn.

These two bags are made of recycled jersey cotton yarn, itself made from off-cuts, left over from the T-shirt manufacturing process.

Crocheted draught excluder, made from four old T-shirts.

This draught excluder is made directly from four old T-shirts, cut up into strips.

Trendles Project Community Open Day 2014

Posted 26th July, 2014 in category Crafts

Willow fish.

Catherine was at the Community Open Day of the Trendles Project at Marcham, Oxfordshire, on Saturday 28th June 2014, where she demonstrated willow weaving.

This project allows the local community to get involved in an archaeological excavation and its subsequent interpretation. The event bought to life some of the skills, tools, fabrics and recipes that might have been used locally, during the period from the Mesolithic to Roman times.

Hedge-laying

Posted 28th February, 2014 in category Crafts

Hedge laid by conservation volunteers.

It's been a busy few days for Jeff. After the printing workshop, he went to learn hedge-laying with a conservation volunteer group. Nature Warden Tim, showed a group of beginners the basics of the craft.

We worked on a double row of Hawthorn saplings, planted a few years earlier, cutting part way through them and bending them down to form a neat hedgerow. Hazel stakes were inserted as uprights to weave the living trees through, with more Hazel binders woven along the tops of the stakes to hold the complete structure in position. These techniques are very similar to willow basket making, but on a much larger scale.

The result is a durable, robust and attractive barrier that will keep stock in or out. Hedging provides a great habitat for wildlife, has a very low carbon footprint, and uses only native species grown in the immediate area.

Hand printed labels and business cards

Posted 28th February, 2014 in categories Our Business, Crafts

New, hand-printed business cards and labels, with old label as comparison.

We like crafts, and we like recycling, so, when Jeff had the opportunity to attend a Cleeve Press Letterpress workshop, he decided to make some business cards and labels to use on our baskets.

The card was cut from boxes collected from a local supermarket, but the lovely papers were hand-made in India. Cleeve Press provided an amazing selection of papers, inks, metal typefaces, blocks and typesetting tools to compose the images. These were then printed on old-fashioned, reclaimed and restored, hand-presses.

The day's workshop was a real pleasure, and, although labels can be printed easily with computers and an attached colour printer, learning a new (actually, a 600 year old) skill is much more fun.

Dogwood harvest

Posted 17th February, 2014 in category Foraging

Bundle of dogwood, harvested from Western Park.

The bark of dogwood (Cornus alba) gives a wonderfully bright and colourful display at this time of year. The variety 'Westonbirt' in particular is a deep, vibrant red colour, and is easy to grow in parks or gardens.

Regular (annual) coppicing encourages increased growth of thin, long, flexible shoots, perfect for basket making. The ideal time to harvest this new growth is towards the end of winter, after enjoying the colour, but before leaves or side branches begin to sprout. Usually, up to about one third of the new shoots would be taken each year.

With the permission of the Park Rangers, we've harvested a bundle of green and red dogwood from Western Park. This will be laid for a few weeks, in a damp, dark spot - amongst the ivy, beneath a hedge - to mellow. Then it will be ready to weave into baskets or other item.

Website accessibility

Posted 30th September, 2013 in category Our Business

We want everybody to be able to navigate, read, use and enjoy our web-site. Although it was designed from day one to be accessible to all, our friend Matthew Atkinson has suggested several improvements particularly for people who use screen reader technologies to browse the internet. The main changes are:-

  • WAI-ARIA landmarks are assigned to the main divisions of each page - banner, navigation, main (the page's content) and footer - to allow quicker and more nuanced navigation around each page;
  • menu items, buttons, form fields and links have been tweaked to make hovering over them, and tabbing through, them more visible;
  • the "Your feedback" text area of the Contact Us form is no longer resizeable;
  • required fields of the Contact Us form have been marked up as such for screen readers.

Website reorganisation

Posted 20th July, 2013 in category Our Business

Website reorganisation.

When our web site was first published, we did not have much content, so some of it was repeated on several pages. Now that we have more to say, it's time to simplify the structure and remove most of the duplication. The main changes are:-

  • the Home page has three new panels: Commissions, Events and News. Buttons at the bottom of each panel take the reader to a relevant page, Gallery, Events or News;
  • the What We Do page has had most of the duplicated content removed from the right hand column;
  • the original News page has been split into two new pages: Events and News. The images are now larger and more square. Most of the duplicated content has been removed from the right hand column on both pages.

Rectangular baskets

Posted 14th April, 2013 in category Latest Work

Rectangular baskets.

We decided that we needed a couple of small boxes to carry all those little bits and pieces we take to craft fairs.

Catherine learned how to make these rectangular baskets whilst on her course in London. Our challenge this time, was to make two matching pieces. The top border is made with a slightly different technique to round baskets, in order to try to keep the corners tightly angular.

Western Park baskets

Posted 15th March, 2013 in categories Latest Work, Foraging

Western Park green & red baskets.

The materials we harvested in February, from our local park, have been maturing outside for a few weeks, and are now ready for use. We had plenty of materials to make two pieces, a green storage basket and a red fruit bowl.

The colours all blend well together, and it seemed fitting to photograph the two pieces in the place where the materials originally grew.

Launch of our new website

Posted 19th February, 2013 in category Our Business

Our new website.

Jeff's been busy adapting a free web template to be able show off our work. You are reading the results right now.

The new site uses HTML, CSS and javascript libraries. Our host offsets carbon emissions by planting trees, which fits in nicely with our own business ideas.

London basket making course

Posted 15th February, 2013 in categories Our Business

, Crafts

London basket making course.

Catherine had her first lesson today at a basket making course taught by Mary Butcher.

She's already learned some new techniques, and is trying them out in several new baskets, one of which is rectangular for a change, and with a lid.

Harvesting local materials for basket making

Posted 11th February, 2013 in category Foraging

Basket making materials, harvested from my local park, tied in bundles and labelled.

There are so many good basket making materials in my local park. The range of colours and textures is excellent.

After checking with the Park Ranger, we've been out collecting dogwood (red & green), weeping willow, spindle, cotoneaster, plum, rose, hazel, alder, poplar, oak, larch and blackthorn.

Announcements

Wanted: cow horn

Posted 1st March, 2013 in category Our Business

Yes, seriously, we're looking for a real cow horn. These were traditionally used to hold the grease that lubricates the bodkins used in basket making. If you can help, please contact us.