Julie Gurr-Willowweaver

Contemporary and Traditional Basketry

Category: News (page 1 of 2)

Chaos is A Friend of Mine 25th June – 7th July 2019

Hastings Arts Forum, St Leonards-on-sea,

I have a few pieces of new work in this exhibition that includes a variety of work by Hastings Arts Forum artists.

Natures Chaos – Willow

All Hands On Deck 19th to 25th May 2019

Weaving Fishing Nets and Baskets

There is lots of information, photos, and examples of how baskets and nets were made and used for fishing in this exhibition at Brighton Fishing Quarter Gallery this week. Contemporary work by Mary Butcher, Louise Paul and myself also on display.

Charcoal a By Product of Basketmaking

My partner and I have recently got into charcoal production. The Artists Charcoal that we produce is made on the fire at home from bits of willow leftover from basketmaking.

Tin of willow just removed from the fire embers

It is an interesting process where the wood has to be burnt but the amount of oxygen it has access to is reduced. This burns off all the impurities in the wood leaving pure charcoal. We seal it in a tin and then put it on the fire.

We now have boxes of this charcoal for sale in Neames, the Art shop in Rye and Artwright in Hythe 

Artists Charcoal packaged in its box

 

You can also get it on ebay here 

We make it at home on a fire so it might not be up to the professional standard of some of the big suppliers so if you are an artist that requires all the pieces in a box to be a standard colour and softness it may not be for you. We have met artists that enjoy the variation however and of course our charcoal is cheaper

Baskets From Found Materials 15 – Bindweed and Mystery Plant Material.

Well after having settled in, in Hastings, I am back with my Baskets From Found Materials project. As I am now busy with my business here I am not committing to a basket a week, but hope to do one at least one a month, if not more often!

My latest ‘found materials’ basket is made with bindweed and another plant I found the dried remains of growing in the hedgrows.

Bindweed Random

Bindweed is a plant I do not remember seeing in Scotland, where I used to live, but around here it is a curse to gardeners, its long tendrils winding their way up and around other plants. There is loads of bindweed growing in various places here in Hastings and I will be using it for my next basket as well and so will talk more about it, and show pictures of it, then. Meanwhile I’ll just explain that for this irregular dish shaped basket I used cord made from the bindweed and combined it with the other mystery plant material in a random weave. It’s not particularly strong so probably not very functional but was an interesting experiment and the result is quite decorative.

DSCN3668

A New Start In Hastings

You may have noticed I have been a bit quiet on the basketmaking front over the last few months. I have been busy moving and have had to have a break from making baskets and my Baskets From Found Materials blog.

After 21 years in Scotland, 14 of them as a basketmaker on the Isle of Arran I have recently made the transition ‘down south’! I am now in Hastings in East Sussex, by the sea again but a much more urban environment. Its a small town though and doesn’t take long to get out into the countryside, and I hope to do lots of exploring soon. Things have fallen into place for me here in Hastings and I already managed to get myself a workshop space for my basketmaking.  Its at a place called Brittania Enterprise Centre in central Hastings where there are spaces with loads of small businesses including joiners, furniture makers, blacksmiths, curtain makers, a jewellery maker, a surf board maker, mechanics, boat builders, graphic designers, and sign writers and lots more.  Its got a nice friendly community feel and it will be good to be working nearby other people rather than on my own all day as I was when I had my workshop on Arran.

After cleaning out all the clay dust left by the previous resident who was, yes you’ve guessed it, a potter, all my newly acquired workshop needed was willow. I hope to find somewhere more local to get willow, or grow my own eventually, but I needed to get a good stock to get me going so a trip to Somerset was called for.

It’s always good to see a big willow farm and how it is all harvested and processed. When I was there the main activity was stripping willow for white willow rods. The willow harvested in winter is stood in troughs of water until leaves just begin to sprout. The willow is then put through machines that strip the bark off and then the willow is stood outside in the sun to dry out before storage.

Freshly Stripped Willow Drying In The Sun At Musgrove Willows

Freshly Stripped Willow Drying In The Sun At Musgrove Willows

I had a wee camping break while in Somerset and came back with a load of willow to fill up my new workspace

Willow in my workshop     Willow outside my workshop

It feels good to be all set to go and I already have a couple of orders. Going to start my Baskets From Found Materials blog again soon as well. I’ve already been spotting some interesting materials that I want to experiment with!

Baskets From Found Materials Week 14 – Moss and Wool

This week as in week 5 I used hair moss that I collected on Arran……

Hair Moss

Hair Moss

…….together with some odd strands of wool that I found at home.

Strands of Wool

Strands of Wool

I made the moss into rope and coiled it into a bowl shape sowing the coils together with the wool. The result was very nice!

Basket from Hair Moss and Wool

Basket from Hair Moss and Wool

 

Baskets From Found Materials Week 13 – More Telephone Wire

This week I am using telephone wire again.

 

Shallow Basket made from Telephone Wires

Shallow Basket made from Telephone Wires

I guess now that everything is wireless we do not have such a need for telephone cables and, this week, I still had lots left after making baskets with them last week, and the week before. Like last week I stripped these down to reveal several multicoloured wires.

Multicoloured Telephone Wires

Multicoloured Telephone Wires

As I was pleased with last week’s basket I decided to use the same random weave style. I wanted to refine my technique and see if I could control the shape to make it wider and shallower. I also decided to be more selective with the coloured wires I used and went for a ‘rasta’ feel with red, yellow, green, and black.

Shallow Basket made from Telephone Wires

Shallow Basket made from Telephone Wires

The result was indeed shallower and wider, and also accidentally ended up with an interesting kidney bean shape!

Looking down on the telephone wire basket

Looking down on the basket

 

 

 

Baskets From Found Materials Week 11 – Telephone Cable and Garden Tie Wire

I have just recently moved home and while packing found some old cables and wires stored at the back of cupboards. I thought these would be useful for baskets in the future and rather than throwing them out decided to keep them. I have used some of them for this weeks basket.

Basket made from Telephone Cable and Garden Tie Wire

Basket made from Telephone Cable and Garden Tie Wire

I used a length of telephone cable…..

Telephone Cables

Telephone Cables

……coiled around and tied with garden tie wire …….

Garden Tie Wire

Garden Tie Wire

……to create a small basket.

Basket made from Telephone Cable and Garden Tie Wire

Basket made from Telephone Cable and Garden Tie Wire

The twist of the wire between the coils of telephone cable creates an open weave and quite an interesting effect.

Looking Down on Telephone Cable Basket

Looking Down on Telephone Cable Basket

I ran out of the garden tie wire but if I had more I could continue this technique to make a larger basket.

Baskets From Found Materials Week 10 – Fish Net and Other Stuff

Fish Net Basket

Fish Net Basket

This week I used an old fish net that I found on the beach as the main framework for the basket.

Old Fish Net Found On The Beach

Old Fish Net Found On The Beach

The net was made into a cylindrical shape and then string made from natural materials found on Arran, plus strands of beach rope, were woven randomly into it. Here are some of the materials I used.

Seaweed

Seaweed

Cordyline Trees

Cordyline Leaves

Hair Moss

Hair Moss

Rope Found on the Beach

Rope Found on the Beach

The result was a hanging basket about 10 inches deep.

Fish Net Basket

Fish Net Basket

 

 

Baskets From Found Materials Week 9 – Rushes and Carpet

Basket made from Carpet Thread and Rush Rope

Basket made from Carpet Thread and Rush Rope

This week I used some more of the rope made from rushes that I used for the basket in week 6.

Rope Made From Field Rush

Rope Made From Field Rush

I also used part of some old strips of carpet found in a skip.

Strip Of Carpet

Strip Of Carpet

I removed strips of synthetic thread, from the woven back of the carpet, in order to get a material that I could use for sowing.

Synthetic Thread Removed From Carpet Strips

Lengths of Synthetic Thread Removed From Carpet Strips

This proved to be a great material for holding the rush rope together in coils to create a small basket.

Basket made from Carpet Thread and Rush Rope

Basket made from Carpet Thread and Rush Rope

 

 

 

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