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.

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