New Term, New Skills – Upcoming Courses

September is a great time to start something new, why not come on one of our courses?

WILLOW TASTER COURSE Countryfile Article

Date: Tuesday 13th September 2011

Venue: All Saint’s Church Hall, Southerndown, 10am-4pm

A variety of willow weaving projects, from simple stars to woven hearts finishing with a small frame basket. An enjoyable and relaxing day spent working with willow.

WILLOW BASKET MAKING FOR BEGINNERS

Date: Wednesday 12th October 2011

Venue:  All Saints Church Southerndown, 9.30am-4pm

Learn to make a small round basket using a variety of willow. Learn the technique of working with willow to make a round base, insert stakes and weave the sides of a traditional willow basket.

WILLOW SCULPTURE

Date: Sunday 30th October 2011

Venue National Botanic Gardens, Carmarthen, 10am-4pm

Learn to design and create a small animal or bird sculpture. This course introduces the technique of sculpting with willow, how to create a 3d shape and to fill in using a random weave.

To book please contact the National Botanic Gardens tel 01558 667150
or email kbailey@gardenofwales.org.uk

WILLOW CRAFTS FOR CHRISTMAS

This course covers a variety of willow weaving techniques using both dried and freshly cut willow. Course participants will learn to make several willow Christmas decorations including wreaths, stars, chains and trees. A glass of mulled wine and a warm mince pie make this course a fantastic way to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Date:   Saturday 19th November 2011
Venue Heritage Coast, Southerndown, 10am-4pm : £50

Date: Tuesday 29th November 2011

Venue:  All Saints Church Southerndown, 10.00 am-4pm

LIVING WILLOW STRUCTURE

Date: Wednesday 7th December 2011

Venue: Pencoed Growers, Bridgend, 9.30am-3.00pm : £50

This course covers teaches you how to design and plant a living willow structure. Participants will be taught how to lay out, plant and construct with living willow rods and will build a variety of structures suitable for gardens, community spaces and schools. Traditional weaving techniques, care and maintenance of structures will also be covered.

NEW FOR 2011 – CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS 2 – Willow and Hedgerow

Follow on course from Willow Christmas Decorations. Come and spend another relaxing day with us preparing for Christmas. Learn to weave a selection of NEW items to decorate your home for Christmas:

Choose from:  Rustic Wreath including Contorted Willow and Hedgerow materials, 3D Angel, Willow Chains, Conical Christmas Tree, Hearts for Presents

We will have a variety of fresh coloured willow and hedgerow materials available to decorate your items.

Date: Friday 25th November 2011

Venue:  All Saints Church Southerndown, 10.00 am-4pm

Date: Saturday 10th December 2011

Venue:  All Saints Church Southerndown, 10.00 am-4pm

Looking forward to seeing you!

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Getting in a Celtic Knot

More than a few of us converged on Dunraven Gardens, Southerndown on a very sunny 14 July for a jolly get together combined with a spot of Celtic Knot basket making.

We all spread out amongst the apple trees with our 36 willow rods, gathered them into six sets of six and began arranging them into a sort of Star of David pattern. Luckily we had printed instructions which Dawn kindly read out for phase 1, we all managed this successfully with little drama.

Phase 2 involved going over a teepee, in and out of a lake, through a door and back out the other side, all was good.  “I like this” Sarah H cried, and that was before the elderflower champagne 🙂

Phase 3 was slightly more taxing with the introduction of otters leaping in and out of pools, (don’t know who wrote the instructions but it wasn’t me…)

We knew Sarah L would be good at this, she has an incredible eye for patterns and she proved us right but all in all there wasn’t too much gnashing of teeth, swearing or heavy sighs at all really.

Lunch was a bring your own picnic and some delicious elderflower champagne made by Clare, it was lovely sitting in the beautiful warm sunshine just chatting and relaxing.

After lunch we tackled the ‘pulling in’, a marvelous way to tone up those bat wings, who needs Jane Fonda when they’ve got a celtic knot basket to manhandle. This is probably the most taxing part of the basket and takes quite a bit of effort to make the flat shape become a bowl shape.

All in all a great basket to do in a group, not a bodkin or rapping iron in sight and nobody ending up crying, result!

Royal Welsh Show 2011

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It was our second year at the Royal Welsh and although it was four long, hard days it was still enjoyable.

It was my first time as I managed to be on holiday last year and I must admit I was very taken with all the different varieties of sheep, badger faces have to be my favourites, quite difficult to get me out of the chicken tent as well.

Clare was asked her opinion on judging the cows and said she found the ‘blond’ ones very fetching.

Lovely to see a few familiar faces throughout the week, overdosed on chocolate brownies a bit, didn’t sell any coffins, maybe next time.

Laundry baskets

A short while ago we were commissioned to make three large rectangular laundry baskets for a company in Neath. Turned out to be quite a challenge, one that took over our homes, lives and the skin off our fingers for a week or two.

Great experience though and if anyone is looking to lose a few pounds, try making a large basket 🙂

Have to feel slightly sorry for the recipients though, they must have a heck of a lot of washing to fill those baskets.

Jenny Crisp, Roy Youdale and Tom Hare

Mel and I have had some superb teaching recently from three great tutors, Roy Youdale, Jenny Crisp and Tom Hare.

Roy is an old friend who has spent many days with us teaching us advanced techniques and coffin making. He also taught our very successful residential coffin making course in September last year. The course is running again this year from September 19th to the 23rd.  This time, after a delicious lunch, Roy was teaching us how to make the traditional welsh tea basket which has a small cylinder in the centre for cutlery and is shaped like a scandinavian doughnut so that the tea set fits around the edge. The basket is much more straightforward than it looks! As always we were so impressed by Roy’s attention to detail and tips for weaving the perfect basket. Roy must also now be getting used to our constant barrage of ‘yes but ‘why’ do you do it like that? ‘ ‘what are your hot tips for …’ ‘how do you do ……’ – I think he is always left exhausted by our thirst for learning everything basketry! On the way home there was a shriek from Mel ‘OMG Daffodils’, I knew instantly what she was talking about – the cylinder shape is perfect for weaving a daffodil flower ………


 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent an inspiring two days at Jenny Crisp’s house in Leominster learning her distinctive technique of scallomed baskets with deep borders and an additional foot.

Jenny’s baskets are extremely chunky and satisfying to handle and look at – not only did we make beautiful deep fruit baskets ourselves but found ourselves arriving home with four of her baskets that were just too irresistible to leave there.

It was the first time we had met Jenny and stayed at her beautiful house.

Not only is she a thorough, patient and inspiring teacher but a fabulous host as well – we can’t wait to go back soon for another two days learning to make her wonderfully complex square fitched shopper.

 

 

 

And finally ……………. what a wonderful two days we spent at Musgrove with the breathtakingly talented sculptor Tom Hare.  Tom’s stunningly beautiful sculptures of flowers and seed heads are featured at Chelsea.

Tom is a very laid back tutor who makes you feel like you can achieve anything (fantastic for me as I was actually just tagging along with Mel who is already brilliant at sculpture).  We started by honing our skills at making random weave far less random and much more regular, weaving with multistrands of willow.  We then learned a finishing technique called ‘directional weave’ which took a lot of practice and was incredibly time consuming covering about 10 cm in an hour but very pleasing and regular.

On day 2 we worked from a basic hoop to form a circular flower shape – I called mine a Ranunculus – as I am not so comfortable with things being abstract and  it looks lovely sitting amongst my hedge outside my kitchen window.  We finished by sculpting giant flower shapes onto a metal frame as Tom does for his huge sculptures – I finally got to achieve my longstanding desire to make a giant sculpture of a daffodil.  The shape is now waiting to be filled with a random weave (regular of course!).  It was supposed to be finished in time for the Royal Welsh Show – but I think I had better set myself a target of the RHS Spring Show in Cardiff 2012 instead!  It was the end to a great two days and boy did we get some funny looks coming up the M5 and over the Severn Bridge with a giant daffodil on the roofrack!

Thanks so much Roy, Jenny  and Tom – here are the links to their websites if you want to know more about them:

http://www.willowbaskets.biz/

http://www.jennycrisp.co.uk

www.tomhare.net/