All the materials we use come from nature
The baskets we create are made from basketry grade willow, sourced from a range of suppliers across England. We use a whole host of different willow varieties to create baskets with subtle blends of colours, or bold contrast. We mainly work with 'brown' willow, which is willow with the bark left on. Brown willow comes in many varieties and therefore lots of beautiful natural colours ranging from purple, red and orange, to yellow, green and indeed brown. We occasionally add white and buff willow, which is when the bark is taken off. We also steam 'brown' willow, which gives a darker shade of the same natural colour.
Our making process begins at the design stage, deciding on shape, size, weaving patterns and colour. We then spend time sorting the willow, as a range of different length willow rods are needed for a single basket, as well as different thicknesses. Basketry willow is dried before use, so it must be soaked before weaving to make it pliable again. The soaking process can take up to a fortnight before the willow is ready to use.
After taking it out of the soaking tank, it must be 'mellowed' overnight (or longer), which involves wrapping the willow in a damp cloth to allow the water to soak into the inner core of the rods.
When the willow is ready, we begin weaving. We mainly use a method and style of willow basketry known as 'stake and strand'. The process begins with weaving the base of the basket first, adding the uprights (stakes) to the base before bending these up to create a birdcage shape. We can then begin weaving between the stakes, creating the sides, then move onto weaving the border and adding a handle if required.