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: