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!