Working collaboratively from their home studio in Worcestershire, Sarah Loughlin and Marcus Wootton create a range of functional and contemporary baskets.
The name Hopewood pays tribute to the natural materials they use within their work, and celebrates the hopeful experience that making gives them. Weaving both locally-grown and Somerset willow, they enjoy bringing nature into new homes and hands, enriching living spaces and enlivening everyday tasks.
Sarah divides her time between making baskets for the online shop and stockists across the UK, as well as sharing her knowledge through tuition and workshops.
From contentedly wielding a paintbrush in her early years, to quietly declaring she would be an artist at the age of 7 years old, making and creating have been the thread running through Sarah's life. After studying a Fine Art degree in Canterbury, Sarah trained to become a teacher, spending twelve rewarding years teaching in many areas of education, including teaching art and craft.
As much as she loves creating and making in the studio, she is equally enthusiastic about sharing her skills and the benefits that weaving with natural material brings.
Marcus is committed to creating things that are built to last, made sustainably, with care and attention. Previously working with antiques, he sourced old and interesting items before restoring and photographing them to sell to collectors. Photography taught him to look at things carefully, and restoring objects from the past taught him how they were made.
Marcus can usually be found in the workshop creating the various structural wooden elements that are incorporated into the baskets. Both his father and grandfather worked with wood, and Marcus still has his grandfather's adze; an old tool he has restored (and still uses) but would certainly never sell! Using traditional hand tools and techniques adds an authenticity to his work; paying homage to the craftspeople who came before him and combining two of his passions, antiques and making.
All the materials we use come from nature.
The baskets we create are made from basketry grade willow grown in Worcestershire and Somerset.
Using different varieties of willow gives us a wonderful range of natural colours to choose from, as well as providing different structural qualities. Each year is a discovery and learning process where we find out what the new harvest is like to weave with. Willow teaches us much about time and patience!
We incorporate a range of locally-sourced wood into our work which we use to create structural elements and handles.
We start with a blank piece of paper and a sharp pencil. For us the potential and the process is as exciting as the finished product. A world of possibilities present themselves: the size, shape and proportion of the piece to consider, as well as choosing from the natural colour palette provided by the wide variety of willow. Various styles of weave allow us to add different textures and patterns to our work.
Willow is harvested in the Winter, and then stored for several months. Once dried, we begin the 'grading' process, sorting by hand the hundreds of rods into different lengths and thicknesses of willow. This process gives us consistency within our weaving as well as building an intimate knowledge of the raw material.
After grading, the willow is ready to soak in a water tank to make it pliable again for weaving. The soaking process can take up to a fortnight before the willow is ready to use...and after all the preparation we can begin to weave!