I’m very pleased to show you this photo of my first Devon stave baskets made as part of the HCA/Marsh Endangered Crafts award.
This is a #2 size basket which I started making with Mark Snellgrove in Devon and have been working on since. I also made a set of bending formers for the #2 and #4 baskets so I can start to make my own handles and rims from local materials.
There are a lot of hours in this basket, far more than would ever be commercially viable but they are all part of the learning process and it’s thanks to this award that I am able to dedicate the time to these wonderful baskets. I’ll be posting more as I continue to learn and start to produce my own baskets from scratch.
I’m incredibly pleased to have been chosen as winner of the 2018 HCA/Marsh Endangered Crafts Award. This new award, funded by the Marsh Christian Trust is aimed as craftspeople working on one of the 62 crafts currently listed in the ‘critically endangered’ or ‘endangered’ categories of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts and secure its survival for the future.
I will be using the award to learn about making Devon stave baskets with Mark Snellgrove, the only current practioner in the UK. These baskets are very unusual as they are constructed like a barrel with the sawn staves individually fitted onto steam bent rims. There is a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to this new challenge and helping to promote and preserve this craft for the future.
Great thoughts on craft from Jonathan Anderson in Sunday’s Guardian ahead of the Loewe Craft Prize.
This quote feels especially important, not only that he wants to change the situation but that the gap between how art and craft are perceived is recognised and discussed:
“I feel an obligation to help craft practitioners: to redefine craft and prevent it from being seen as a lower form than art.”
Read the full article on the Guardian’s website
When you get your new scythe, it’s easy to overlook the small wooden wedge in amongst all the other parts and packaging. I’ve got used to having spare wedges for people who have mistakenly overlooked and thrown away this vital part so it’s brilliant to see that, following my suggestion, they are now unmistakeably stamped. Thanks to Richard Brown for the photo.
What’s so special about the wedge? Well, the scythe is an incredibly subtle tool. When set up correctly, it whispers effortlessly through the grass cutting it cleanly and neatly. Small changes to the various angles though will throw it off and leave you struggling to cut or, worse still, digging your scythe blade into the ground.
The wedge is used to adjust the height of the cutting edge of the blade from the ground which, when you’re stood holding your scythe, wants to be about 8mm. All of this is covered in detail in my Learn to Scythe book and on my courses where I’ll help you set up and adjust the scythe so all the angles are optimised for you.
I’ve just finished making a small group of these ash splint wall baskets. These are one of my favourite shapes to weave with a subtle swelling and single steam-bent ash hanger.
My craft teaching season is about to start with a trip down to Cornwall this week so I’ll be weaving less and passing on skills more. It means I won’t have much time for making baskets myself so, if you’re interested in these lovely baskets, snap one up now.
Ash splint wall basket, approx 7″ high to rim £100
Another beautiful film about weaving ash splint baskets, this time featuring Jamin Uticone of Swamp Road Baskets. I love hearing him talk about the trees he uses, his trading and the minimal impact his craft has on the forest. It’s wonderful to watch him working and marvel at the beautiful material he has available.
Watching it is inspiring me to weave up some pack baskets of my own, like this pair I made last year, more photos here. Watch this space for news of those and some other baskets which I’ll have for sale soon.
If you’re feeling inspired yourself, why not book onto one of the ash splint basket making courses I am teaching in 2018? You’ll learn how to source and pound your own splints and weave them into a lightweight, strong basket.
The next date is 17-18 March 2018, book directly with Yurt Works, Cornwall
This is a very beautiful film about Stephen Jerome from the Mi’gmaq First Nation community of Gesgapegiag in the province of Quebec, Canada. The short film shows Stephen harvest a tree and convert it into a rib basket using simple tools.
I learned a lot from watching this and seeing techniques similar and different to my own. If you’d like to learn about ash splint basket making, I will be teaching courses during 2018. Visit my craft courses page or sign up to my newsletter for updates.