We have been very lucky to have been working with the Bridgend Coastal Project this year.
The project was put together with the staff of BLeaf and WoodB with the aim of developing a range of willow weaving skills of staff and service users. It is hoped that the skills learned will be able to be used in the future to create a range of items in the workshop and to give the fantastic grounds maintenance team the skills and confidence to maintain and use their own willow growing at Sony Environment Centre.
After initial meetings with key staff, including Shelley Morgan-Ford who is in charge of the project down at Sony Environmental Centre, we came up with the following programme which was particularly suited to the location and the activities of the team.
PROPOSED DRIED WILLOW WORKSHOPS
Session 1 Introduction to willow weaving. Birdfeeders, circles, flowers and butterflies
SKILLS: Basic manipulation of willow, introductory skills
Session 2 Dragonflies – some small and a large
SKILLS: 2d sculpture, simple weaving skills
Session 3 Garden Trug
SKILLS: Introduction to basket weaving to create collecting basket for garden
Session 4 Apple or pear sculpture 1
Session 5 Apple or pear sculpture 2 about 3ft high in the time allowed and can be floor mounted or hung on a post and hook.
SKILLS: 3D sculpture, random weaving
Session 6 Living Willow tunnel
SKILLS: Maintaining existing willow, planting living willow to create garden structures, creation of approximately 9m of willow tunnel
We have now completed all sessions and it has been absolutely amazing to watch skills develop and see people so engaged with their surroundings and their learning. The students have progressed so fast that we have included a couple of other projects into the programme, including weaving a small round fruit basket, weaving a giant compost bin for the copious grass clippings generated by the mowing team and also a little mini woven back chair for the children visiting Sony. Shelley has already asked WoodB for another 11 to create a woodland Fairy Ring – Jason needs to get his boys working!
Our last session was in November (when the living willow season begins) when we coppiced the willow at Sony and used it to create a giant tunnel over the walkway to the environment centre.
The culmination of the project came in a moving celebration evening last week when we saw members of the team on stage and fantastic photos of the project on the big screen. We even sent the Mayor of Bridgend home with a birdfeeder he had woven himself!
I have to say that this has been one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on. The staff and students are absolutely outstanding and being able to be part of such a superbly valuable project, which is providing such a worthwhile and vital service, is an absolute privilege. Thanks very much to the Coastal Project and Mary and Ingrid for your invaluable and much appreciated help with the project.