Julie Gurr-Willowweaver

Contemporary and Traditional Basketry

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.

6 Comments

  1. i’m enjoying your words about basketry…joanne kaar sent me over to visit, i will return!

  2. Great idea Julie, I love the variety of your baskets.

  3. You make it sound so complicated. I think because you are sooo into willow. You can make soft and perfectly useable baskets and rugs with fabric strips from old t shirts, skirts. Sweatshirts, whatever, paired with string, dyed string, macrame cord, jute, dyed hemp, bulky knitting yarn. Whatever. It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated for the sake of it. Jeepers. Let go of your “purity” issues and just make something that is fun to make, cheap, looks fabulous, makes you feel happy when you look at it, and can actually be used for a considerable amount of time.

    • Avatar
      Julie

      November 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Not sure I understand what you think my ‘purity issues’ are? Happy to try all the materials you talk about. In fact someone else in Lois Walpole’s class I was on used old T shirts to make a basket.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *