Julie Gurr-Willowweaver

Contemporary and Traditional Basketry

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!

4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    anne-marie sapsted

    November 20, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Do you run any private basic willow weaving courses? I’m looking for a hslf or full day one for two or maybe three people in the first week of December.

  2. Hello Julie
    I am just up the road from your new base in Bexhill-on-Sea. I have a set of conservatory furniture which l recently bought. However it seems like it has been out in the weather ind is very friable. It has backs and seat made, l think from willow, would you be able to re cane the seats and backs of the three pieces in the set? (2 armchairs and a 2 seat sofa)? It is very unusual l think from the 1920s and l would like to give it another 100 years of life!
    Is this something you might undertake? If not can you suggest someone who might? I would be very grateful.

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