Saturday, 28 February 2015

loom weaving and willow heddles

Jess and I decided a few months ago to build a loom at Stave Hill Ecological Park – see The Fabric of Stave Hill . We’ve now made a couple of rigid heddles (pictured above) which will be used to build a loom and weave fibres and plants harvested in the park.

The round heddle followed a project in Practical Basketry Techniques, inspired by the Catalan platter. The other heddle was made using willow in combination with a couple of bow saw handles. To finish this heddle willow bark and twine will eventually be plaited across both ends of the handles to replace the cable ties now used to fasten these together.

We tried various methods for constructing the heddles and will soon find out how efficient these are when we put them to the test in a couple of days. I'll keep you updated on the outcome of this in my next post.

While making these we couldn’t resist making a few of these plaited cones with the freshly cut willow we were using, inspired by another plaiting project included in Practical Basketry Techniques. While thinking these might be used as bird feeders and hung from trees, Jess clearly had some other ideas, as you can see below! Working with others does wonders for creative inspiration!

Friday, 27 February 2015

willow weave / knot garden

A few weeks ago Rebeka Clark at Stave Hill Ecological Park mentioned that the willow hedge pictured below needed coppicing. The willow stems have put a heavy strain on the metal fence at the base of the pollarded willow after two years of growth that were periodically subjected to high winter winds.

So with the help of Tina Götschi and Jess Smulders-Cohen we started to cut down the hedge. We bundled up the shorter stems and used the longer ones to weave around the recently coppiced  black thorn shrubs at the other end of the park. We did this in several stages, illustrated below.

It’ll be interesting to see what will grow between the bent willow stems as Spring marches on. I suspect the weaving will disappear from sight only to reappear again in the autumn. At that point more willow might be added to elevate the lacy ground willow pattern into low hedges. Plants growing within this network of willow stems and black thorn stumps might give the appearance of a knot garden, albeit a very loosely structured one. We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

flying fedges (round the fruit tree and back again)

The project referred to in the previous post involves creating meandering fedges across the steep slopes of the site at the Darlington YMCA, one of the ideas I suggested to Sally Reckert after at meeting her at The Festival of Thrift last year.

The current plan is to work with a number of community groups to create the fedges out of materials collected on site, as well as other local green areas. Once completed the fedges will make the garden more accessible, provide resting points, create new pathways and offer residents and visitors new sightlines over the city. We used various types of wood as well as green willow with view of it growing and  providing more foliage and material to weave into the fedge over time.

Looking at these images now I realise how much this project drew inspiration from previous work such as  Panoramic Pathways at Nottingham Castle and Museum and Art Gallery, as well as an installation I'm currently working on at Stave Hill Ecological Park, using pollarded willow around black coppiced blackthorn shrubs. I'll upload images of this last installation in my next post, meanwhile here are few that will take you on a journey around the site at the YMCA.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

on fedges and efficiency

getting ready...

I have decided on one resolution only for 2015, that is be more efficient. As far as writing on this blog however and with almost three months now since the last post, it’s maybe fair to say sticking to this resolution has proved to be a total disaster!

getting steady...

This is not for lack of business though or things to write about. Recent projects combined with lecturing simultaneously on three courses at UAL has got in the way of keeping weeklyweaves up to date. So, writing this now and preparing the next few posts, I'm remedying this while working hard at making this process more efficient.


Casting my mind back over the last few weeks, periodically working outdoors at Stave Hill Ecological Park and a project at the YMCA in Darlington has been the greatest source of inspiration, not least for the people I have met when working at both sites.

and repeat...

This includes Dave Bent, a volunteer gardener who assisted me building fedges with a group from Just the Job, using ash stakes and other wood collected from for the site at the YMCA. I was really taken by Dave’s efficient way of making a fedge using laurel.  Here’s a few images illustrating how he does it. Dave discovered this method by chance while working on the site, and an efficient and economical one it is too. Thanks Dave, I hope you don't mind me taking a leaf out of your book in the future!

job done!