Weaving Willow

basket &bodkin

One of the workshops being run by the Walter’s Tools project was in willow basket making by tutor Helen Elvin. She popped over beforehand to hook out some basket making tools from the collection, including a knife, a reindeer antler bodkin, and a rapping iron. She also discovered a wool gathering basket that Walter had made years ago, lurking in the depths of his old barn.

Friends of the project and workshop tutors (in tool handle making and blacksmithing,) Sam Robinson and Shaun Bainbridge, had kindly sharpened up the basket making tools so we could use them in the course. At the start of the basketry course, Walter talked us through his small collection of specialist tools. 

Walter’s basket making tools

Among Walter’s extraordinary collection was a battered wool-gathering basket, which he made himself. Tutor Helen Elvin set out to make a replica as part of the basket-making course.

The woolgathering basket

Six of the course members set out to each making a round willow basket over the course of the weekend, using willow that Helen had grown herself in her woodland in Wasdale. The variety of colours were beautiful – greens, yellows, browns. It was very physical work and totally consuming. We learned a fair few new words in the process too…. 

Basket structure and process:
– the cross structure made at bottom of basket
staking up         
– when you put the side stakes into the base and bring them up into the pyramid
waling (wale )
–  weaving 3 or more rods in sequence for the start of the sides
– weaving with a single rod at a time on the sides

Basketry Tools:
rapping iron     
– to make weave tighter
– to make a space to weave through
– a slanting cut made on rod to ease threading it through a gap
– weaving the stakes along top of basket to finish top.

Helen teachesIt was interesting to see the different forms each basket took, despite our making it from the same basic pattern and principle.

Tim basket making

Janet basket making

A finished basket

a finished basket

 All photos ©Dayve Ward 2014

basket cases

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