Julie Gurr-Willowweaver

Contemporary and Traditional Basketry

Category: News (page 2 of 2)

Baskets From Found Materials Week 8 – Electrical Wire

Basket Made From Electrical Wire

Basket Made From Electrical Wire

This week I have been clearing out my house because I am moving soon. I found a load of old electrical leads that I had kept because I thought they might be useful one day.

A Selection Of Old Electrical Leads

A Selection Of Old Electrical Leads

Of course every new appliance that you buy has a lead along with it so I never needed them for electricity. But they looked like they might be perfect for turning into a basket! First of all I stripped off the outer plastic layer of the cable to reveal the three coloured inner wires.

Three Inner Wires Inside The Electric Cable

Three Inner Wires Inside The Electric Cable

Then I started the basket with a circle of wire around which I looped more wire, coiling the looping stitch around itself until the basket was the desired shape and size.

Basket made from looped Electrical Wire

Basket Made From Looped Electrical Wire

The result was a good fruit bowl sized basket.

Baskets From Found Materials Week 7 – Tinsel and Cardboard

Well, my basket this week is very seasonal.

A very Christmassy Basket

A very Christmassy Basket

The main structure of the basket comes from a section of an empty Pringles tube. The cardboard tube was cut to length and then the sides were divided into sixteen strips.

Pringles Tube cut into strips

Pringles Tube cut into strips

This was woven with some tinsel and a length of gold beads that I had left over from my Christmas decorations.

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

The result is an amazingly sparkly basket. Just right for this time of year!

Basket made from a Pringles Packet and Christmas Decorations

Basket made from a Pringles Packet and Christmas Decorations

Happy Christmas Everyone!

 

Baskets From Found Materials Week 6 – Rush and Rope

This week I made a basket using rope made out of rushes and some bits of synthetic rope I found when clearing out my loft.

The rushes I used are soft (or field rush) which grows on wet bits of land.

Soft Rush - Juncus Effuses

Soft Rush – Juncus Effuses

This was made into rope and then I used a tying technique with the orange bits of rope to make a small basket.

Basket made from Rush and Rope

Basket made from Rush and Rope

 

Baskets From Found Materials Week 5 – Moss and Grass

This week I went back to using natural materials rather than man made and made another tiny basket about 2 inches high.

I used hair moss which grows in clumps and has stems up to two foot long. Hair moss grows on wet, boggy ground and so there is an abundance of it on the Isle of Arran where I live.

Hair Moss

Hair Moss

The moss was coiled and sown with lengths of this ornamental grass I have growing in my garden

Ornamental Grass

Ornamental Grass

Here is the final result

Basket Made From Hair Moss And Grass

Basket Made From Hair Moss And Grass

 

 

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

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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