Saturday, 24 December 2011

pop-up festive baskets

Out with the old, in with the new! In Naples, this it taken quite literally. Unwanted belongings are out the window on the last day of the year, anything from small items of clothing to large pieces of furniture. As long as it fits through the window, out it goes. It makes for a really interesting (and perilous) walk around the city when out celebrating on New Year's eve!

How about this as an alternative... Reuse an old basket instead of throwing it out to create a feature for your table during the festive season. Soak the basket in warm water, take it apart and use the material to weave your construction over a forma. We used balloons and paper maché when working on a project in the publication Practical Basketry Techniques. Simply pop the balloons once your done and remove the paper.

The baskets were then festooned with party food on skewers. I wasn't quick enough to get a shot of the display in all its glory, but here is an after party shot in advance of the festive celebrations. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

the world as weave

Planning ahead for the book launch of the Practical Basketry Techniques during my exhibition at Siobhan Davies Studios in February, Ranbing and I have been making these interlaced constructions out of hand drawn lining paper. The paper baskets will be part of a number of woven pieces displayed at the launch. The technique for making these tie in with one of the interlacing project in the publication. The felt tip pattern was designed to mirror the structure of the basket, and add a touch of colour to differentiate the inside from the outside surface of the baskets. Where the openings were created, the strips were reversed and the coloured pattern switched from inside to outside, and vice versa. The idea was to make these constructions as light as possible so a helium filled balloons could be placed inside these to make them float about us at the event. For information on the launch and exhibition, click here.

Working on these had me think of Tim Ingold's fantastic book 'The Perception of the Environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill'. Writing about weaving a basket, he says 'The world of our experience is, indeed, continually and endlessly coming into being around us as we weave. If it has a surface, it is like the surface of a basket: it has no 'inside' or 'outside'. Mind is not above, nor nature below; rather, if we ask where mind is, it is in the weave of the surface itself. And it is within this weave that our projects of making, whatever they may be, are formulated and come to fruition. Only if we are capable of weaving, only then can we make.' (Ingold 2000, pg.348)

Well, this confirms it, the world is one big weave, and any action we take in it consists of weaving and tying things together.

Monday, 12 December 2011

beach holiday basket

The weather has turned really cold lately. Bright blue and cloudless wintery skies has meant the temperature has dropped dramatically in London, and it has made me long for hot summer days. Preoccupied by this, I dug out the pictures of the tropical island I made a while back during my show at the Origin craft fair in 2009. The piece was coiled using the straw and coloured string from an old beach mat, and its fabric edging for making the palm trees. For full instructions on how to make this and help you keep your spirits up during this cold spell, click here. Warm thoughts...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

hedgerow basketry at the Cuming Museum

A couple of baskets made from green waste at the Heygate Estate (see previous posts) will be on show at the Cuming Museum in Walworth, South East London. It will be part of the project and exhibition Collecting Home by artist Eva Sajovic and writer Sarah Butler, who are currently resident at the Museum. Eva and Sarah have asked local residents to select objects from their own lives to put into a museum, objects that might represent them, their lives, the history of the area. Find out more about the project, workshops and events, by emailing them at

Friday, 2 December 2011

hanging baskets and bags

Getting back into twining last week reminded me of a couple of projects I worked on last year - The Hanging Gardens of Tibby Place, part of the Secret Garden Project, and Curious about Craft, a gig organised by Craftspace for teenagers in Birmingham city centre. With these, I put into practice my research on hedgerow basketry for the book on basketry I mentioned before, combining it with my interest in freeform weaving to create large scale structures and installations. The baskets illustrated above were made by the participants on both projects, using a wide range natural materials. Hops, bindweed, phormium and daffodil leaves were used as weavers. Brambles, elder, buddleia branches and other creeping vines (all courtesy of the local municipal gardeners) were used for the stakes. Sisal and baler twine was also used to add colour to the baskets, as well as for creating the woven structure that supported the hanging baskets. In retrospect, I'd probably use coloured jute instead, much better for the environment. The sag in the fibre however might not provide such good support for the baskets however. The dilemma is yours if you are take up this project. If you do, why not send me a picture of your finished basket. Happy weaving...

Friday, 25 November 2011

plant supports and bird baskets

The birdfeeders I made last week didn't last very long unfortunately - see previous post. I'm not sure how many birds got a meal out of them before the grey squirrels ravaged the feeders. The trick is I realise to hang them on long pieces of string from thin branches, to prevent vandalism from these agile rodents. I salvaged a few of the feeders and hung them back up with peanuts attached to them. Fingers crossed! Having still large amounts of green waste at my disposal, I planned to make a wigwam to support the sweet peas and nasturtiums I want to grow in the allotment. The stakes not being long enough for sweet pea, I made a smaller plant support instead, to hide the manhole cover in the middle of the vegetable patch, which I'll get the nasturtium to grow on. I also twined a few small baskets using the cotoneaster and dogwood and placed them in discreet spots in bushes and trees. Let's see if they get populated by birds on a look out for somewhere to nest...

Friday, 18 November 2011

bird feeders

I found myself clearing out my allotment this week, and making use of the green waste collected by myself by other mobile elephant gardeners at the Heygate Estate to make bird feeders. Inspired by a project of mine at the Tatton Park Biennial in 2008 (feeder with peanuts illustrated above), and a more recent project developed for Practical Basketry Techniques, I made use of dogwood, cotoneaster, apples and corn kernels, to make a few of these and hang them around the place. These were plaited much in the same way as corn dollies. I've kept a few of them for the more rigorous times ahead, in late winter, when our feathered friends will be really hungry.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Practical Basketry Techniques

Having worked over the past year on Practical Basketry Techniques, a teach yourself basketry book published by A&C Black due out in 2012, I thought I would start this blog.

My aim is to log my making and research relating to basketry, and weaving in general, beyond the 16 projects included in the book. The publication introduces traditional as well as non traditional basketry techniques, with a focus (including many tips and botanical references) on sourcing and foraging for natural fibres from your local environment to weave with, as well as recycled materials.

Updating this blog on a weekly basis will hopefully provide me, and you, with inspiration for weaving and basketry projects, some of them seasonal, the whole year round.

For info on other projects of mine, visit my website or other blog.