On a lovely sunny Sunday we bundled bodkins, snippers, irons and sticks into our bags and set off to the beautiful Bishop’s Wood, located just behind Caswell Bay on the stunning Gower coastline. With the intoxicating smell of thousands of wild garlic and their delicate white flowers mixed with swathes of bright bluebells nestled under towering trees, it truly was a sight and smell to behold as we approached the log circle deep in the heart of the wood.
Eight intrepid weavers looked excitedly on as we explained and demonstrated the age old methods of making a small, round stake and strand basket before they set to work on their own mystical first basket journey.
In fairness a few had already begun their journey so were up and running quite swiftly, so we challenged those with different weaves and the prospect of putting a handle on if they shifted a bit.
The complete beginners were taken through the process slowly and gently, nurturing their first grasp of the willow sticks, encouraging them to work with the curve, wiping brows as they puffed through pairing, challenging them to push those side stakes in a bit further, watching until they were well and truly relaxed with waling until their beautiful baskets started to emerge.
The day flew by as the baskets flew up and before we knew it, it was border time. Using buff outside on a warm day with a slight breeze on the air was always going to be a challenge and despite copious amounts of spraying and dampening down there was no alternative than to take the baskets up to the well and give them a 10 minute dunk to be workable. What a joy that turned out to be, we got to see the fantastic roundhouse built by landowner Dai, complete with outdoor kitchen and cob oven plus his fantastic willow chairs, while our basket babies were baptised in the well’s trough, magical.
Borders complete and handles for a few, it was so lovely to see beaming faces clutching new born baskets, a wonderful end to a perfect day of willowing in the woods.