We are facilitating village and town communities to grow, maintain and use their own materials; and in the process learn the relevant essential skills. We are beginning with setting up a community willow bed in Bishopston, Gower.
Weaving has been with us from the beginning, early stone age man had already mastered weaving plant fibres to make nets , cloth and carrying baskets. Need is the mother of invention and the technology continued to evolve into fish traps, animal traps, armour, hats, bee hives,, hurdles and wattle and daub for shelter. The list goes on. Materials used are diverse and depends on the regional plants growing local to the maker. In the UK soft materials such as Rush are used as well as harder materials such as willows (the Salix family). The techniques have evolved over centuries to make containers which are biodegradable . In manufacture or disposal no harmful bi products remain in the environment. This is the hallmark of a sustainable fibre, modern materials have their uses but also their cost.
We need to re-invent the use of biodegradable containers and re-invigorate the craft industry which sustains it.
Think Global, Start local
The professional and country style basket making tradition existed together. In the rural districts most farm heads had their own withy bed; a patch of basketry willow which was cut every year for use on the farm. The farm workers would spend a window of time in the calendar year to make the baskets needed for the coming year. The skills were passed on between workers as and when necessary. You do not need to be a professional basket maker to make baskets for yourself and your local community. With basic skills, useful baskets can be made, used and sold. This is about utility not perfection.
The willow craft community is an attempt to build this tradition back up and base it in a wider community like a village or small town. First we need to learn to grow the materials, and secondly community members need to learn a basic set of skills and baskets which can be learnt and passed on. Baskets which are relevant and useful to our lives today and those which help to change the way we live our everyday lives. Changes we need to make so that we can live with nature and not against it.
Let’s bring back our local indigenous baskets! Baskets used in food growing, serving food and transporting food.