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.

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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/

Welsh Basketmaker’s South Wales Group Update

The next few weeks are very busy and Mel and I are on holiday for a week from Friday so we need to get a bit organised this week – can’t believe it is nearly June!

Wool and Willow Festival

http://www.woolandwillowfestival.org/

As everyone knows this starts on Friday this week . Mel has got 2 items so far to take with her for our group display, it is looking a little bare! We would love it if you would consider lending us just one of your favourite things you have made – basket or any other item for display at the festival. Some beautiful work has been produced by our group (and I am simply thinking of everyone’s first baskets at this point) and we would like to show it off! Let me know if you can provide something and we can arrange to pick it up before Friday morning when we leave to set up. The item will be on display for a month and we will pick it back up and return it to you then.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is to be held on Monday June 6th at Colwinston Village hall and we will be making conical plant supports. We need a week to prepare the willow for this so we need to know if you are attending by Thursday this week at the latest. Everyone very welcome.

Flatholm Trip

The long day for Flatholm Island falls this year on a weekend when both Mel and I are tied up (Mel is in London and I am working with Les on the Cyntell course). Everyone had such a fantastic time on this trip last year that I wondered if you would still like to go as a group anyway. The cost for the trip would be £34 per person which includes food. The date would be Saturday 17th September – maximum 15 places on Lewis Alexander Depart 0845 Return 2045. It is easy to arrange a trip but we would need a volunteer to liaise with Natalie regarding booking this trip, let me know if you are interested.

Basketmakers Association Summer Meeting

We are also planning a trip to this event in Cheltenham on 18th June.
If you would like to come on the trip, please email me or Deb at deborah.hill@wales.gov.uk by Thursday this week as well so that we can see if we need to hire a minibus or just car share during the day. It should be a lovely day out and gives us an opportunity to meet other basket makers from all around the country.

Lots to respond to here so I look forward to hearing from you!

The Cyntell – Traditional Welsh Basket

The Cyntell is the traditional Welsh framed farm basket which was used for many agricultural purposes.   Les Llewellyn, who was himself taught by the late DJ Davies, has taught several members of our group the method of making these baskets, we are now confident that our heritage will not be lost!

The frame for the Cyntell is made from very stout hazel or willow which is harvested in the winter months and wrapped round a circular forma – made from MDF or an old bicycle wheel – and left for several months to dry naturally.  The baskets range between 18 and 22 inches in diameter and were originally designed to fit into each other for storage when the baskets were not being used.  The size of the basket is determined by the diameter of the hoop.  The Cyntell basket also has ribs which are shaved from willow and also dried around formas.  Les has provided us with a set of formas which are exactly the dimensions which DJ Davies originally used.  The ribs are made by splitting very stout willow in half using a knife or two thumbs.  The ribs are then shaped by shaving the sharp edges off to form an oval which will not skin the weaving willow as it passes over the ribs.  The ideal shape is an almond ‘eye’ shape with no sharp edges.  It takes a lot of practice to achieve this!

Once the hoop has dried it is joined by cutting two slypes  that fit snugly together and then wood glue is used to ensure a really strong frame.  4 ribs are then attached to the hoop with 4ft willow which is firstly criss crossed and then simply woven in and out.  The willow is always joined in with butt first – the butt resting along the rib which is closest to the hoop.  It is very important that the butts are trimmed neatly and in line with the rib.  New ribs are added in as soon as a pocket has been formed by the weaving.

Les is a fantastic teacher and so generous with his help. We have arranged a course for budding Cyntell makers – this consists of one day in March making frames (19th) and the second day, in September (17th) weaving the Cyntell.  There is one place left on this course – if you would like to attend please contact us asap by e-mail and return the booking form found at http://www.outtolearnwillow.co.uk/howtobookacourse.html

Welsh Basketmakers South Wales Group – January Meeting

A massive thanks to Deb for taking notes, typing them up and sending them to me in an e-mail  – a lot harder  to lose than an envelope, although I promise I still have this month’s safe!  We had a great meeting with more than 20 people attending to agree the programme for this year and weave some beautiful willow hearts from fresh Black Maul and Flanders Red willow.  Yvonne brought some gorgeous organic willow for our basketmakers to pounce on.  Anyway, here is the programme for this year, expect there will be changes on the way but it will be a more relaxing way to do things I think.  Again thanks to everyone for offering to help.

Dates and Activities for 2011

The Group agreed a list of activities for the forthcoming year and agreed dates for the monthly meeting.

N.B  Unless otherwise stated we are hoping that all meetings will be held at Colwinston Village hall – fab venue with easily sweepable floors and loads of car parking.  One summer meeting will be held at Kathy’s house in Cardiff Bay – to be confirmed.

January 31st Fresh Willow Hearts 7.00 – 9.00 pm
February 28th Hoops for frame baskets – Knife skills and using skeins   Material costs £1 per frame 7.00 – 9.00 pm
March 28th Weaving Materials from the Hedgerows At Pencoed Organics 

Final details to be agreed.  The main aim of the meeting will be to improve material recognition and identifying the most useful hedgerow materials for weaving

7.00 – 9.00 pm
April (actual date Tues, May 3rd) Bases – practice your round, oval or square bases for finishing baskets at home. 

Material Costs – £1 per base

7.00 – 9.00 pm
May (actual date Mon, June 6th) Plant supports 

Material Costs – £5 per plant support

7.00 – 9.00 pm
June 27th Borders 7.00 – 9.00 pm
July and Aug No monthly meetings due to summer holidays, however there will be a picnic at Dunraven – date to be arranged 

 

Sept 26th Corn dollies – weave your own dragonfly, bodkin cover or anything else made using a corn dolly weave 7.00 – 9.00 pm
October 31st Angels and trees – 3 dimensional tree or angel from white or buff willow 7.00 – 9.00 pm
November 28th Christmas party 7.00 – 9.00 pm
December No monthly meeting

Getting Organised

At the first group meeting, we decided to keep things informal.  However as things have progressed and as the group has increased in numbers, there is the need to formalise a few things to ensure the smooth running of the group.  At the moment we need help with refreshment rotas, keeping notes of the meeting and collecting funds.  Details are as follows:-

Refreshment rotas

We agreed to have a rota for providing refreshments – tea, coffee and biscuits/cake.  We will arrange the rota at every meeting and pass on the tea/coffee making equipment to those next on the rota for the following month.  Kathy agreed to sort out February (with Ann to help although she doesn’t know yet!)

Keeping Notes

We have agreed to keep a few notes from each meeting particularly where we have agreed actions.  These will then be posted on our blog.

Funds

There is a minimum charge of £2.50 at each meeting for the cost of the hall and materials.  Sarah kindly undertook this at the January meeting and has agreed to carry on doing this for future meetings.

Basket making and other willow events

Wool and Willow Festival 2011 – Llanidloes  (http://www.woolandwillowfestival.org/)

Dates for this year’s festival are 28th May to 25th June.  Set up is on Friday 27th May.

Out to Learn Willow are running a workshop making Framed Baskets for the garden or kitchen on 17th June

Prue Thimbleby will be running a workshop for willow and recycled materials on 3rd June.

We also have a stall for exhibiting our work – this is for everyone and Maggie will be in touch with further details shortly.  If anyone is interested in selling any of their work then contact Clare and Mel as we also have a table for selling willow items.

Basket makers Association Summer Meeting – Cheltenham  17th June 2011

We agreed that we would like to attend the AGM and it would be sensible to organise a minibus for a number of us to attend.  Unfortunately it clashes with Clare and Mel teaching and stewarding at the Wool and Willow Festival but other group members may well fancy a day out

Deb will be in touch to organise numbers and minibus hire.

Next meeting

28th February 2011, 7.00 p.m.  Colwinston Village Hall (to be confirmed when booked)

Looking forward to seeing you all again next month, if you have a sharp knife such as an Opinel knife or fixed blade penknife please bring it with you along with a piece of leather or suede to protect your knee!

Joe Hogan’s Basket Course – You have got to go!

Mel and I have just come back from the most fantastic trip to North West Ireland where we spent 4 days basketmaking with Joe Hogan in Loch na Fooey in Galway.  The location is unbelievably beautiful and the tuition superb.  We made a selection of baskets between us – traditional Skibs, a Kisheen, a celtic knot basket, a rectangular small log basket and a hedgerow birch bowl.  Joe not only skillfully teaches you anything you want to know, but also provides cosy accomodation, a delicious lunch and a visit to his willow bed (including cuttings).

It’s just got to be an annual trip!