Beautiful willow sculptures


 Who’d of thought of a willow tortoise, Rachel did and look how fabulous he (obviously) turned out.

By popular demand we had two Willow Sculpture courses running in September and what fantastic creations our participants came up with. Following on from ‘Four Herons and a Dolphin’ on last May’s willow sculpture course we’ve now had five ducks, butterfly, heart, cormorant, hedgehog, mushroom, peacock, chicken and of course the lovely tortoise.


Willow sculpture is very time consuming but very worthwhile and as these photos show a whole manner of shapes can be achieved. It’s also very lively as shown by Christine, holding on for dear life to her lovely duck, she didn’t want to let him loose!

Our next Willow Sculpture course is on 25 May 2013, look out for more willowy creations.

Gypsies and Shoppers day two

Gypsy baskets

Vale Adult Learners took on the Gypsy Basket challenge last month and after a fair amount of sighing, the odd curse or two and cries of please no more packing, beautiful shaped baskets unfolded.

Welsh Shoppers round two

The second day of the welsh shopper course took place last month. It was a pretty cold day and once again we were all huddled around the fire at the Heritage Coast Centre. With hoops, handles and ribs all dried out it was a day of weaving the basket. It’s quite a tricky basket if you keep the traditional weave going and try and shape the basket at the same time. Also helps if you’re told how to start the basket off properly in the first place, I blame brain freeze…

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

Happy New Year – Basketry Courses for 2011

A series of six basket making courses running every two months throughout the year designed to build your skills in basketmaking. Courses are suitable for complete beginners and can be booked individually.  You will take home a completed basket at the end of each course.
Choose from:
1.  Small round fruit or bread basket
Learn to weave a small round base using a pairing weave, then how to stake up a willow basket and learn a 3 rod wale weave.
2.  Frame basket for the kitchen
Learn how to weave an oval basket on a frame and how to make frames and ribs for a completely individual kitchen basket.
3.  Small fruit picking basket with handle
Small round base revised, new weave introduced – english randing, small handle inserted
4.  Frame basket for the garden
Frame baskets revisited, weaving a larger basket with handle to make a lovely garden trug.
5   Bowl shaped round basket
Round bases revisited, controlling the shape of your basket while weaving.
6.  Oval basket
Learn how to weave an oval base to make a small oval egg basket.
Course 1 – Wednesday 26th January 2011
Course 2 – Wednesday 30th March 2011
Course 3 – Wednesday 25th May 2011
Course 4 – Wednesday 27th July 2011
Course 5 – Wednesday 28th September 2011
Course 6 – Wednesday 30th November 2011 

All courses are one day courses, 9.30am-4.30pm and cost £50 per course.
Courses will be held at All Saints Church, Southerndown, Vale of Glamorgan.
Courses can be booked independently, deposits required 28 days prior to course date
A series of six progressive basket making courses running every two months throughout the year. Courses are suitable for those who have some experience in basket making and want to further their skills.

Choose from:
1  Frame baskets with handles
Learn how to make hoops with interlocking handles for frame baskets and weave a small collecting basket.
2  Oval shopper with handle liners
Oval bases revisited, weave a larger oval basket with handle liners.  Try one or two more baskets as homework and bring to the next course to learn how to insert and wrap handles into baskets.

3  Inserting and wrapping handles into previously made baskets
4  Welsh shopper
Learn how to make a traditional welsh frame basket using formas from basketmaker D J Davies. with a double handle.
5  Fitching
Learn traditional French fitching on a round  base
6  Square baskets – 2 days  Day 1 – square bases
Day 2 weaving the body of the basket.  Focus on practising control of weaves.
Course 1 – Thursday 27th January 2011
Course 2 – Thursday 24th March 2011
Course 3 – Thursday 26th May 2011
Course 4 – Thursday 28th July 2011
Course 5 – Thursday 29th September 2011
Course 6 – Thursday 1st December 2011 & Friday 2nd December

All courses are one day courses except for square baskets which is a two day course, 9.30am-4.30pm and cost £50 per course, squares, £100. Courses can be booked independently, deposits required 28 days prior to course date.

We really look forward to seeing you all again on some of these courses!