I started willow weaving as a hobby through Medieval Re-enactment around 2000, the first items I made were life sized willow bee skeps, eel traps, quivers, chicken cages and many other medieval items. Surprisingly I didn’t make a basket in the first year of willow weaving.
As time moved on, I moved away from the medieval scene and started to make more everyday products including baskets and decorations. Due to the amount of people who asked me, I then started to run workshops in willow weaving. I also started to learn how to make greenwood spoons and bowls using traditional hand tools.
Quite a few years later I moved to a place called Greenhow in North Yorkshire; this was an idyllic rural location in the Yorkshire Dales where I thought I could expand my hobby. However the climate was too extreme to run a willow weaving business from, so I ended up moving to Tadcaster where the climate is much friendlier.
It was some time later through a volunteer group I run (FERN Crafts) that I met the owner of Rose Farm in Church Fenton who offered me the use of her orchard to put my Yurt in and I rented a stable from her to use as a workshop. This marked the start of my willow sculpting stage and gave me an ideal location to run workshops and make willow produce.
Today I am a full time willow weaver, my husband has been very patient and supported me when I left full time employment to pursue this dream. I belong to the Basket Makers Association and enjoy attending workshops run by them when I can to help me develop my weaving styles.
So far I have attended workshops with Carlos Fontales from Galicia, Spain learning the Nasa Technique, this is an historic technique found around the Mediterranean region, mainly used to make fish traps, ‘gambina’ (www.carlosfontales.blogspot.com). I have also studied with Debbie Hall of Salix arts and she taught me how to make her lovely Willow Handbags (www.salixarts.co.uk). I have also studied how to make framed baskets with Anne Mette Hjornholm from Denmark (www.hjornholm.dk). All these courses were organised by the Basket weavers association (www.basketassoc.org).
Today you will find me merrily weaving and enjoying the opportunity to run my own willow weaving business. I make many sculptures mostly commissions and enjoy trying new basketry techniques. I also run workshops for individuals and groups and have been lucky enough to travel all over Yorkshire teaching people different willow weaving skills from hurdle making to basketry and sculpture.