What’s been happening ‘3’… the final chapter

AUGUST – Willow Storytelling tree, Roman Military Spectacular (just look at those Gladiators) the Eisteddfod and the Vale Show

Nearly up to date – August was quite a busy month as well with The Eisteddfod and the Vale Show. We had a rather fetching teepee at the Eisteddfod and spent a very relaxing week on the Maes Gwyrdd. Les Llewelyn, our famous Cyntell maker demonstrated for two days making a beautiful white cyntell.

What better than willow swords and shields for a Roman Military Spectacular at the Amphitheatre in Caerleon. The event lasted for two days and we were treated with fantastic Roman Soldier battles and sparring Gladiators.

Another lovely project was a sculpture of a Storytelling Tree in Dare Valley Country Park. Spread over three days the workshop was for local children who either worked on the tree or made leaves which we attached at the end.

Finally the Vale Show which is an agricultural show held in Fonmon Castle in Barry, another event we’ve attended for quite a few year’s running. Always a very busy day which this year was made joyful by the return of someone very special… 🙂



Willow Bee Skep

I spent Mother’s day in my favourite way (disregarding 2 hours of cleaning that just HAD to be done for health and hygiene purposes), lovely walk on the beach with dogs,  picnic at Castle upon Alun  catching the last of the native daffodils and then home for some basketmaking in the conservatory with a glass of wine……

Mum already knew that she was having a bee skep for her mother’s day present – the fact that I presented her with 9 side stakes bound together with cable ties and joined with 4 rows of weaving at breakfast time didn’t suprise her – my presents are often works in progress!  The bee skep is made from fresh and dried and soaked willow – Dicky meadows left over from a course, Black Maul, fresh Dicky Meadows and Continental Purple.  The most exciting addition was the incredible willow Candida which has fat, yellow catkins dusty with pollen which I picked at our hedgerow meeting at Pencoed last Monday – I am hoping hoping that they will stay on.  I can’t use any preservative (hair spray or artist’s spray adhesive) as the skep is going to be a working one to be sited in mum’s new garden – perhaps someone knows how  I can prevent them dropping off?

Bee Skeps are traditional artificial bee nests.  They are basically baskets used open end down and have been used for about 2000 years. Initially skeps were made from wicker plastered with mud and dung but from the middle ages they were made of straw.  There is no internal structure provided for the bees and in the case of Honey bees the colony must produce its own honeycomb which is attached to the inside of the skep – with this skep we are hoping for bumblebees not honey bees so it is actually quite small.  Bees are allegedly attracted to the smell of the willow – the catkins on this one should also attract them so we are hoping it will be colonised quickly.

A person who made  woven beehives was called a ‘Skepper’ – I am wondering if I should change my occupation on the census form before I send it off – that should confound the data checker!