Very pleased with these large garden baskets which I made last week, three for the U.S and three for stock (two sold already).
I used 5 different willows in them, Petite Grisette, Nigricians, Faucille, Belge Rouge and Dickie Meadows. The willows were all at their best and worked perfectly, despite being harder to make than they used to be they were a pleasure to make. I remember a conversation with David Drew a few years back and he said ‘there are very few days of the year when everything is just right for basket making ‘. I remember being puzzled at the time because I worked flat out for many days of the year and felt everything worked just fine.
However when you consider all of the variables at play when you sit down to make a basket you understand that he was right. Consider the soaking times of five different varieties, they will all be different. The mellowing times will also be different with some varieties working perfectly after a days mellowing and some needing two or three. The place within the basket where you use the willows, some willows despite being striking in colour will not border off.
Then of course how you feel as you start work, relaxed, anxious, tired, fit, supple, these factors will all have a bearing on your finished basket.
Basket making can be more physical than people imagine and requires both strength and suppleness. In July this year we were visited by our Japanese client Asoka who wanted to watch us at work and she gave me what I considered to be a great compliment and also proved to me that she was really watching the process, after finishing a basket she said to me “you work like a sportsman”.
So with that in mind when you sit down to make baskets remember that there are few days when everything comes together just right but it does happen sometimes!
Happy basket making.