As you will all know; Blooming Crafty is all about the Willow! But did you know there is a whole other world of materials out there to weave with. Come over to the other side if you’re interested in weaving from your own garden, woods or fields!!
WARNING: When collecting material please make sure you get permission first from the land owner, park rangers, or local authority! If you’re clever you may find a tree surgeon happy to let you have a rummage.
All basketry is about the transformation of material into a woven item. Baskets can be made from an array of different materials. Sourcing and preparing them is an interesting part of my making process. Materials can come from the wild, the garden, the skip or the local hardware store, choosing materials so they stimulate senses, is as pleasurable as holding your finished basket.
When choosing your materials consider their colour, dynamic form, texture, pattern and even the scent. Experiment with lots of materials to find which combination suits you best.
Making my own basketry has put me in touch with the annual cycle of growth. Collecting from the hedgerow can be done anywhere, even in urban areas. Once you start looking for suitable plants you will notice them in neighbours gardens, parks, car parks, school grounds, even growing in cracks in walls!
When collecting materials choose one year old shoots from the ends of older branches. These are usually straighter and finer than older growth; young shoots are often brighter and lighter in colour. It can help to test how pliable they are, if they snap easily they might be better as uprights, rather than the weavers. Here is a list of good twiggy material for weaving:
Willow: Colourful varieties in suburban parks such as Brizensis has violet properties. Weeping willow is not traditionally used as when the stems dry out it turns black, it can be good to use as a contrast. Tortuose willow is a curly willow great for decorating and adding texture. Several varieties of willow have catkins on in spring.
Hazel: Is not very pliable but can be coppiced to produce, straight uprights for supports.
Dogwood: Dogwood is a beautiful colour in winter. Flaviramea is green; Sibiricawater red, Kesselringi dark purple, and Midwinter fire is red, green and orange on each stem. You often find it in mass plantings on roundabouts, car parks or retail parks.
Shoots and suckers: Many trees on the street such as lime, sycamore, and plane can become by dry hot summers, this causes them to put out long, straight, water shoots and suckers from the base of the tree. Great for handles.
Garden pruning’s: Buddleia or butterfly bush, elder forsythia, privet, snowberry and weigela are all common garden shrubs, the shorter stems are easier to work with and it puts to good use your garden waste.
Bamboo: Some varieties are now popular in gardens; many are very colourful and have long stems. They can be used whole as stake or trying splitting as weavers.
Brambles: A common weed! But have been used for years to make baskets. They can be collected any time of year and are a deep red after a hot summer or frost. Strip their thorns first and use quickly as they dry out fast!
Vines and climbers: Grape vines, honeysuckle, ivy, virginia creeper and wisteria. Check that you prune them at the correct time of year as likely to die if incorrect. Hops are a favourite of mine as they smell amazing.
Soft plant material: Are generally leafy they are good for plaiting and coiling baskets. Crocosmia, daffodils, irises, and red hot pokers are excellent for this. After collecting the leaves hang them up to dry out and they become similar to raffia.