Leisure Learning: Willow Basketry

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Suffolk New College - Suffolk Rural

Charity Lane




United Kingdom

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Event description
To introduce a small group of students to willow basketry, building their skills over nine months.

About this Event

Course Description

In a fast changing world many of us want to reduce our reliance on plastics, have the satisfaction of making things ourselves, and work with natural, unprocessed materials which bring us closer to nature.

Learning to make willow baskets fulfils all of these desires and can be a springboard to a new career in craft or simply a lifetime pleasure.

Supported by the Charity of The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, Suffolk Rural is offering an eight session willow basketry course taught by a well known local maker and tutor, Jo Hammond.

The generous support of WCB means that the course will be affordable and with the majority of sessions taking place on Saturdays once a month accessible for those in employment.

This is a rare opportunity to learn a heritage craft in far greater depth than most leisure courses can offer, working through the fascinating range of skills and techniques that go into beautiful and functional willow baskets.

At completion of the course, participants should have become competent with all the main techniques of round and oval basket making, aiming for work of a saleable standard. They will have gained sufficient skill and knowledge to be able to move forward as makers, or to continue enjoying basketry as a hobby.

During each taught session, students will be introduced to skills and techniques through demonstration and practice. Each new practical skill is to be repeated and learned fully during the weeks between sessions. Group learning will also take place through discussion and students will be given suggestions for homework involving research and basketry design to build their understanding of the context and application of their practical skills.

Important please note: Students will need to be in reasonably good health, and have a firm grip to be able to cope with the physical demands of basketry. In between taught sessions, students must undertake several hours of ‘homework’ in order to fully learn new skills and progress to the next stage.

You will need to bring: After the first session students will be expected to bring their own tools, the minimum being: Secateurs, Bodkin, Knife, Rapping Iron, Weight and Tallow Container. An allowance for materials has been included, one traditional bundle of willow (or its equivalent) will be brought along by the tutor ready prepared for each session, and any left over divided between students for practice at home. Students will need to purchase some basketry willow for themselves.

Students will be advised on what might be needed for storage and soaking of willow, and some books recommended. Some written handouts by the tutor will be available, but students are expected to take notes and make drawings for themselves during taught sessions. The tutor will bring books for reference and any baskets needed as examples.

Course Content

Session 1

  • Discussion: Some history and context of basketmaking. Introduction to willow as a material; how it grows, grading, preparation
  • Practical work: making a round base, trimming your work
  • Homework: Soaking willow, making round bases. Start album/learning record.

Session 2

  • Discussion: Accuracy of design and making
  • Practical work: Grading willow, selecting stakes and weavers. Stake up a base and continue- perform waling and English rand
  • Homework: repeat and learn new techniques. Bring a basket ready for its border and a spare base for next session

Session 3

  • Discussion: Working on a larger basket, how this affects choices for design and materials
  • Practical work: On a shopper, handling larger materials and more stakes. Make a wrapped bow handle. New skills in slyping
  • Homework: Repeat project and learn new techniques. Soak handle bows. Bring bases ready for next session

Session 4

  • Discussion: Design and techniques for baskets with curved sides
  • Practical work: Shaping techniques, French randing weave- single and double, rod border
  • Homework: Practice all new techniques, esp borders. Make a border ‘dummy’

Session 5

  • Discussion: Large baskets, materials and techniques needed, design choices
  • Practical work: Make a log basket, with slewing and hand holds. Look at creating an odd number of stakes for slewing
  • Homework : As usual, practice new techniques. Bring a basket ready to border off at next session

Session 6

  • Discussion: Uses of packing and twisted handles
  • Practical work: Add packing and twisted rod handles to a basket project
  • Homework: Practice as usual. Look up oval bases and consider what difference the oval shape makes in design and construction

Session 7

  • Discussion: Looking at oval bases and differing ways to make them
  • Practical work: Make French oval base, stake up, weave sides etc.
  • Homework: Practice oval bases and baskets; try out English oval base

Session 8

  • Discussion: Review learning and identify areas for repeat demos and troubleshooting. Discuss how to progress with basketmaking
  • Practical work: Work through with tutor to address any techniques or design issues as needed

Course Information

Course Start Date: 17th October 2020

Course End Date: 15th May 2021

Timings : 10am to 4pm

Duration: 8 Saturdays / 5 hours per session

Dates: 17th October, 14th November, 12th December 2020, 16th January, 13th February, 13th March, 17th April & 15th May 2021.

Enrolment End Date: 12th October 2020

Please note that the enrolment for this course closes 5 working days prior to the start of the course. Unfortunately it is not possible to process late enrolments after that point.

Please click on the Tickets button above to book onto the course. If you have a discount code, you can apply this by clicking on the Tickets button and then click ‘Enter Promotional Code’.

By purchasing a ticket through Eventbrite, you agree to the Suffolk New College Terms and Conditions and Tuition Fee Policy for Leisure Learning. You must also be aged 19 or over to attend the courses.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

You must be aged 19 or over to attend this course.

What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Parking is available at Suffolk Rural with no charge.

Are refreshments available?

Our refectories will not be open, so you may wish to bring your own refreshments and a packed lunch with you.

What is the refund policy?

Information on refunds can be found in our Terms and Conditions

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

If you have any queries regarding this course, please email business@suffolk.ac.uk

What precautions are in place relating to Covid 19?

If you are showing any symptoms or have been in contact with anyone showing symptoms in the last 14 days, please do not travel or attend the college.

The college has implemented a range of adjustments in line with Government guidelines. This includes introducing a one-way system around the building, reconfiguring rooms and ventilation, wearing face coverings in communal areas and when 2m distance cannot be maintained such as when being taught a specific skill, applying social distancing in the communal areas and in classrooms/workshops, washing hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer gel if soap and water not available. Tutors follow a code of conduct relating to Covid 19 and students are required to follow one too, please see the following link for more information Covid 19 Student Code Of Conduct

If a course is cancelled by the college due to Covid 19 restrictions you will be entitled to a full refund. If you have any concerns please contact a member of the Business Development Team via email: business@suffolk.ac.uk or by telephoning 01473 382200.

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Suffolk New College - Suffolk Rural

Charity Lane




United Kingdom

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Refund Policy

No Refunds

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