The art of basketweaving is an ancient skill passed down mouth to mouth and hand to hand for millennia. Probably the oldest craft in the world. Traps woven for fish, baskets for gathering food and fuel, carrying babies, or covered to create boats, woven with willow, hazel, or any thin whips from any trees.
The very fact that it is still practised globally is testament to the durability and adaptability of the art. Yet it is still morphing into weavings relevent today.
I’ve been weaving willow coffins for a while. Here I am having a coffin fit!
This is an urn made recently for ashes of a friend’s mother. It is lined with unbleached cotton, the toggle is cherry wood.
This unusual piece is a hat’n’scarf holder, woven with willow through a board of pine. I only just hung it when the cat took a leap of faith onto its new perch!
I have been making baskets now since the start of this millennia, and it was an old man called Charlie Danny Gallagher who got me started. He lived (he has passed on now) in Dooey North, Leitirmacaward, in western Donegal, a bachelor with a very simple life. He had been the creel maker in the area, but was too old to keep it going, but he took the time, a little hesitantly at first, to teach me how to make a traditional creel. It was in fact his Sally Garden, or willow beds, which really got me excited. I love trees, and love the fact that you can make a living by working with trees.
So now I still make baskets, and other things with willow.
I have been teaching other people since 2004. You really have to know how to make a basket to teach someone else! Check out Weaving Courses &
News for details of upcoming courses
In September 2009 I was invited to the Green Living Fair at Castle Espie Wildfowl Sanctuary, on the shores of Strangford Lough, Co. Down. I created this corracle from willow, hazel and an old seat from pine. I intend to cover it with a cowhide, and float off into the lough…