What We Do

We enjoy willow weaving, green woodworking and foraging for the materials to use. We can demonstrate these crafts at your event, or lead workshops. These crafts are also relevant to sustainability.

Willow weaving

Robust, practical & beautiful

Willow baskets are robust and practical containers, for shopping, home storage or garden use. Lightweight and strong, willow baskets are extremely durable, often lasting many decades. We like to use attractive materials and arrange them in unique designs, rather than mass-producing single designs.

All of our baskets are hand-made, by us, from UK-grown willow and hedgerow materials that we harvest ourselves. The farmed willow comes from Somerset, where it is processed - mainly by hand - using no chemicals or bleach. Please note that, unlike willow, the colours of hedgerow materials may change slightly or gradually fade a little over time.

We also make Christmas decorations, bulrushes, fish, dragonflies and more. A bunch of bulrushes works very well in a vase, or mixed into a dried flower arrangement. Baskets and willow products make excellent gifts for all occasions.

Catherine is a member of the UK Basketmakers' Association.

Green woodworking

Pole-lathes & shave-horses

Green woodworking uses hand tools and (mostly) human powered machines to make all sorts of products. Traditionally, chairs, spoons, spatulae, table legs and many other products were made in temporary woodland camps, by bodgers.

Newly cut - green - timber can be worked on our shave horse and pole lathe, both of which we built ourselves. Rough timber is prepared for turning on the shave horse, using a draw knife to produce cylindrical blanks for turning. These are then turned and shaped on the pole lathe with gouge chisels. One concession to the modern world is to use bungee cord (elastic) on the pole lathe, rather than a bent, green pole. This saves space, and makes the device more portable and self-contained.

Unworked timber can also be made into rustic 'stick' furniture. Hazel in particular, can easily be bent into smooth curves using only human muscle power. Sawn pieces are nailed together to make simple tables, chairs and stools.

Foraging

Collect your own materials

In the winter months, basket making materials can be found in your own garden. Even a small garden has room for dogwood (Cornus alba), which is often grown for its beautiful winter bark colour. If you are lucky enough to have a larger garden or allotment, you may already have, or could plant appropriate species.

With permission from a landowner, you could collect a wider range of materials. We have a list of species to look out for. They are quite common and fairly easy to identify. The simple test to decide if a rod can be used for weaving, is to wrap it around your wrist. If it doesn't split or break, it's probably usable.

Volunteering for an environment charity or conservation group can be very handy. Willow is a fast growing species, and dries out the ground. It can quickly kill off the reed beds around lakes, which offer some of the best nesting sites for water fowl. A managed schedule of willow coppicing is an ideal way to improve habitats, increase biodiversity and harvest basket making materials.

Tuition

Learn to do it yourself

Fancy making your own willow basket? We run workshops to teach you how to make a simple, beautiful and usable rustic willow basket. We can also show you how to make hurdles and plant supports for your garden or allotment.

We provide the materials and guide participants through the whole process. Buff willow is the simplest material to start with, but colourful dogwood or spindle might also be available depending on our stocks. Perhaps you have suitable species growing in your own garden which can be incorporated.

At the end of the day, you'll have a basket to be proud of, and the skills needed to make your own design variants. But as Borbála, our teacher, told us, "Beware! Basketmaking is highly addictive!"

Demonstrations

Watch us in action

Let us demonstrate interesting craft activities at your own organised event, whether indoors or outdoors, for adults or children.

We can show willow weaving, basket making or green woodworking. Willow and basket work are suitable for inside or out, whereas green woodworking is best demonstrated outdoors as it can make a mess.

We will explain our work to your visitors, and maybe let them try out some activities. They may also be able to take away small items made just for them.

Sustainability

Looking after the environment

Sustainability is the idea that individuals, economies and societies should endeavour to meet their needs and their potential whilst preserving the environment and all its diverse species, so that such activity can continue indefinitely. The current over-exploitation of finite, non-renewable resources such as oil, cannot be sustainable. Unless we become sustainable, carbon dioxide emissions, species and habitat loss, other pollution will most likely conspire to make our lives far more difficult in the future than at present.

Two small aspects of becoming sustainable are to learn how the products we consume are made and to learn to use local natural resources without wasting or destroying them. We make all our own products by hand, rather than importing them from the far east. UK willow growing habitats are carefully managed to maintain or improve biodiversity and to provide local employment. No dyes or bleaches are used in the process, and hardly any fossil fuels. Willow is a renewable resource, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows and gracefully bio-degrades at the end of its very long lifetime.

Based in Leicestershire & Cambridgeshire, our business allows us to combine our interest in habitat management and bio-diversity, with crafts that we enjoy doing. By passing on these skills and practices, we hope to demonstrate that self-reliance, conservation and economic activity can be combined in enjoyable and creative ways, to produce useful, attractive and durable products.

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.