WILLOW BASKET WEAVING
I CAN’T RESIST A BASKET, WHETHER IT’S FOR HOLDING
LOGS, storing fruit or tidying children’s toys away, so as soon as I had the chance to make my own, I jumped at it quicker than you can say ‘bodkin’ (one of the many terms of the trade). Along with five other novices, I joined Deb Hart in her rural Essex studio to learn the ancient skill. Soon we were discovering that the craft has a whole language of its own, from tying the slath (part of preparing the base) to slyping (cutting at an angle). By lunchtime, the upstakes (vertical framework) were in place ready for us to create the body of the basket. In the afternoon we slowly perfected the art of selecting weavers (lengths of willow) of a consistent thickness to avoid producing a bent basket and Deb proved to be endlessly patient as she cheerfully showed me the correct technique for the umpteenth time. I came away with a Polish-style design with an attractive (intentional) graduated rim and a sturdy hazel handle (above), which gives me pleasure every time I pop the recycling into it.
Beginner’s Basket Weaving, Bocking, Essex; £55 (debhart.co.uk).