Willow sculptures galore

gruffalo5This year we’ve been lucky enough to be commissioned for several lovely sculpture projects. Some have been a lot bigger than others, a hard old slog at times, but nevertheless all very rewarding.

Gruffalo – Dare Valley Country Park
Set in 500 acres of Welsh woodlands and pasture and bordering the Brecon Beacons National Park, there stands a willow gruffalo peaking out from the trees overlooking the children’s play area. This handsome fella was lovingly created by adult and children helpers who worked with us to build the main structure and fill in with a creative bit of weaving during May 2013. The head, which took a whole day, was done at home and attached a couple of days later, hopefully no children were traumatised by the sight of the headless gruffalo in the interim.  Last reports were that both children and adults were enjoying his company.

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Willow tree take two at Pendoylan Primary School
Back by popular demand a willow tree has sprouted at Pendoylan Primary School.

Over two days all the children had a go at weaving the main structure of the tree whilst some wove beautiful leaves which were attached to the branches at the end.  Sitting in a corner of the yard the tree is a place for reflection and storytelling.

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Yes, it’s a willow Toto
We’ve been asked to do some unusual sculptures over the years but never a lifesize willow Toto. Residents of  Ty Enfys care home in Pentwyn joined in the afternoon session of weaving to create the famous furry canine as part of their Wizard of Oz themed garden display.

IMG_7552The residents are pretty experienced willow weavers as this is the third time we’ve been back to run a workshop.  Willow garden trugs are filled with the fruit and veg from the garden, at Christmas willow decorations hang on resident’s doors and at 90 years old Naomi, our star pupil had her first willow experience making a beautiful basket for her granddaughter.

Butterfly emerges at the RHS Spring Show in Cardiff
Last but not least, as part of the Wildlife Trust garden at the RHS show, we wove a giant willow butterfly. Lyndsey Maiden from the Wildlife Trust came up with the idea of having the butterfly overlooking the garden and large enough for people to stand behind and poke their heads through a hole in the butterfly’s head, making a  perfect winged photo opportunity. Slightly bonkers but right up our street. Weaving took place two days pre-show and with the much appreciated help of Leigh’s wonderful directional weaving skills, was completed five minutes before opening 🙂

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Mary’s cradle

IMG_5587 Only three months since the last post so getting better.

In September one of our lovely basket makers, Mary Ponting, came to us for a little bit of guidance on making a willow cradle for her son’s friend.

Armed with a mattress, a set of white (handled with extreme care) fitted inserts, a stand for the cradle to sit on and a printed picture of what the cradle looked like we set to work. Size was quite important so we measured carefully with measuring tape, wrote everything down on paper and crossed fingers. Mary set to work on the base while I was very happy being her basket making apprentice sorting willow, making tea, wiping her brow while she wove away. Day one and the base was finished, “I never thought it would take that long!” said Mary, I nodded sagely.

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Day two was German waling, pricking up and weaving away. We had to tie the uprights straight away to get the rounded front and back to come into shape. Crunch time came when we remembered to test out the mattress, inserts and put the halfway cradle onto the stand. Holding breath for what seemed an eternity we both let out a sigh of relief when it all fitted beautifully.

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Day three, more weaving, waling, packing, border and brow wiping. The cradle started to take shape nicely and Mary worked very hard with barely a whimper. After a good dunking in the bath it was finally time for the border. The end result was so fantastic and a real heirloom. Well done Mary!

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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…