Julie Gurr-Willowweaver

Contemporary and Traditional Basketry

Author: Julie (page 3 of 3)

Baskets From Found Materials Week 4 – Magazines And Thread

This week I used materials I found around the house again.

Magazines and cotton

Magazines and Thread

I used the card from the covers of these magazines and some nylon thread I had at home. The card was cut into strips and then plaited into a longer wider strip which was then coiled and sewn together.

Basket made from plaited card

Basket made from Plaited Card

Baskets From Found Materials Week 3 -Plastic and Seaweed

This week my basket is a bit different. Instead of natural materials found outside I have mainly used man made materials that I had in the house that would have been thrown out if not used in the basket. I’ve had two empty tonic bottles hanging around my kitchen waiting for recycling for a while and I also found a few old plastic bags that I had kept because I thought they might be useful one day. This week I decided to make use of these as the raw materials for my basket.

Plastic Bottles and Bags used in Basket

Plastic Bottles and Bags used in Basket

The technique used is stake and strand rather than coiling using an idea I found in Lois Walpoles book Weave, Coil and Plait Crafty Containers from Recycled Materials (Leisure Arts). This book has a wealth of ideas on how to recycle materials but the one I used was to cut a section of bottle and then cut the sides of this into strips that are used as stakes to weave round with strips of plastic cut from the bags.

Basket Made From Plastic Bottles and Plastic Bags with seaweed

Basket Made From Plastic Bottles and Plastic Bags with seaweed

I used sections of two bottles to make a wine goblet shaped basket and decorated the rim with seaweed.

Basket Made From Plastic Bottles and Plastic Bags with seaweed

Basket Made From Plastic Bottles and Plastic Bags with seaweed

Baskets From Found Materials Week 2 – Seaweed and Rope Strands

This week the basket is made all from materials I found on the beach. Seaweed and again strands of a rope that had been washed up.

Section of rope found washed up on the beach

Section of rope found washed up on the beach

This time I managed to find some longer bits of rope all the same colour which made sewing the coils easier. I also found a shell with a hole in it which I included in the finishing off.

Basket made by coiling with seaweed

Basket made by coiling with seaweed

Basket From Found Materials Week 1 – Sycamore Leaf Stems And Rope Strands

Basket made from coiled sycamore leaf stems and strands of rope found on beach

Basket made from coiled sycamore leaf stems and strands of rope found on beach

This week I decided to use the stems of sycamore leaves that can be found in abundance on the ground at this time of year near where I live on the Isle of Arran.

Sycamore Leaves

Sycamore Leaves

After removing the actual leaves from the stems I left them for a few days to dry out a bit as I knew they would shrink as the moisture evaporated from them. They actually shrank quite a bit and I used a lot of stems to make a tiny basket.

I used a coiling technique where bundles of the stems were sown together with strands of a piece of rope that I found washed up on the beach here.

Start of coiling with strands of rope and sycamore leaf stems

Start of coiling with strands of rope and sycamore leaf stems

Section of rope found washed up on the beach

Section of rope found washed up on the beach

The picture above is of the rope I found pictured with some seaweed I also collected (look out for that in another basket!). The length of the rope was quite short and so I had to join new bits in while coiling quite frequently making it quite a time consuming process. As you can see the strands in the piece of rope were all different colours so the result was quite colourful basket, however.

coiled baskets 031

Basket coiled with sycamore leaf stems and strands of rope found on beach

The basket is only about 2 inches high, took several hours to make but I like it. It was satisfying to make something without having to pay for materials and hopefully I will get faster and neater with my coiling with more practise.

Basketmaking with Found Materials

Over the next few weeks I have decided to attempt to make a basket a week with materials that I find around me, around the house, or around the local area. This could be natural materials or man made materials. The only rule is that I must not buy anything new.

I have spent 15 years basketmaking with willow and have become quite good at it. The problem is it is expensive. The cost of buying willow from commercial growers in England has rocketed in recent years and I have to more or less double the cost to get it over to Arran. I do not have land to grow my own willow and so think it is about time to start using other materials a lot more. Also as Lois Walpole explained on the class I was on with her recently much commercially grown willow has an adverse environmental impact. It has a very high usage of pesticides and herbicides that in places like Somerset is having a severe impact on the natural species in the area. Of course I am not going to give up making willow baskets completely. I’d have to change the name of my website if I did! But I think it is about time to experiment with other materials.

It was Lois’s class at the recent Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle gathering in Arbroath that has inspired the idea of experimenting with found materials. Over the three days I experimented with a variety of materials and techniques including hair moss, seaweed, newspaper, bits of string that had tied up my bundles of willow, mombretia leaves, magazines, and bits of leftover willow. Here are some of the samples I made.

Coiled with rope made from montbretia leaves, seaweed, hair moss, string and leftover willow

Coiled with rope made from montbretia leaves, seaweed, hair moss, string and leftover willow

Side view of basket made with rope made from montbretia leaves, seaweed, hair moss, string and leftover willow

Side view of basket made with rope made from montbretia leaves, seaweed, hair moss, string and leftover willow

Newspaper and garden string

Newspaper and garden string

Seaweed and garden string

Seaweed and garden string

willow, sisal string ties, hollow plant stems

willow, sisal string ties, hollow plant stems

Others in the class used packing tape, offcuts of Harris Tweed, wire, and different types of cord and string. It was very inspiring to see what could be made from these materials and Lois was able to show us different techniques so we could try them out and see what would suit our materials.

So each week up until the end of the year I will practicing these techniques with materials I find or would otherwise be thrown away. Look out for a picture of the first one later this week.

Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle Gathering

 

I am recently back from the Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle annual gathering, which was held at Hospitalfield Centre for Art and Culture  in Arbroath. There were three masterclasses at this event; Owen Jones was teaching people how to make oak swill baskets, Geoff Forrest was teaching square basketmaking, and the class I did which was with Lois Walpole showing us how to use recycled and found materials to make baskets. I will talk more about this class in my next blog. Our AGM is also held at this event and after 10 years on the committee, including a stint as chair I have finally stepped down. Over the years I have got a lot out of being a member of the Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle. As well being able to take part in masterclasses, it has been great to be able meet people doing a similar thing in other parts of the country rather than being isolated on Arran. Looking forward to having more time for exciting projects now I am off the committee though!

 

Willow Weaving and Other Baskety Things

This new blog is a place where I will share my latest basketry adventures. I will talk about my latest basketry projects, let you know about classes I am running, and how the ones I ran went. Basically a place where I can talk about willow weaving and other baskety things. Please feel free to comment.

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