We spent a great day at Debbie's learning to strip willow and other wood in preparation for a bark workshop with Maggie Smith at the beginning of September.
Debbie, Christiane, Karen and Sally enjoyed a fascinating trip to the Somerset Levels in March to visit two of the willow grower there. We first visited Somerset Willow Growers where we were made to feel very welcome. They showed us their willow beds and we enjoyed watching them process and sort willow (and we did some shopping). From there we went on to P H Coates where we took a tour and also enjoyed the cafe, museum and shop. We were amazed at how much of the willow production is used to produce artists' charcoal. We also got to see some of their basketmakers weaving coffins and other items.
We had fun collecting stripple, which is the bark stripped from boiled brown willow to make buff. It smells amazing. We have since had fun with it: making cordage, using it to line nests etc.
In October having dyed lots of cane, we met up for a cane workshop with Polly Pollock - friend, basketmaker and excellent teacher. We worked on sculptural pieces which, as the pictures show, start in the centre around a former. This holds the stakes in place and a mixture of randing, packing and waling weaves are used to shape and separate the colours.