Playing with Ideas

I'm only a few days away from two of my biggest willow learning experiences this summer.  I'm back to Canada to work for three days, then smushing in a little vacation and back to willow for another five days here in New Jersey.  These classes are with teachers I have never met or worked with before so I'm very excited and grateful for these opportunities. 

I thought I should take the time to document some of my recent works because they each had a great element of success in one form or another.  

The first basket I played with used some of my willow bark.  It really doesn't take much more then one roll to come up with something amazing.  The picture below doesn't show the spiral base, which I thought worked perfectly.   I even added a small filler of my bulrush cordage at the top, which I am in love with.   

When I was working on the small bark basket I was thinking about a few different pieces I had seen that used bark as weavers in a regular basket.  I was very interested in trying out the zigzag weave with the bark, and I thought it worked out perfectly.  I can see using this technique to add interest in a larger basket one day. 

I like working on a smaller scale to test my ideas because the baskets work up fast and I don't waste much of a a material that I don't have direct access to.  Every time I make a basket with willow or willow bark, I feel like I'm using up a precious commodity.  It's not far from the truth, but I know eventually I will have to start selling some of my pieces.  It is so very hard to give up any of my willow work, just because I have such limited supplies at this point.  I know it is only a matter of time and patience until I can fix that fact.

Another project I tested out was one for a willow tray.  I love the multiple layers of rows.  It is a technique that I was never taught and I found instructions for in a German basket book.  The pictures helped a little, but I'm not sure I worked the technique correctly.  But it still came out alright and looked great, I thought at least!

This little tray is actually quite sweet, and would probably be great just for a small cupa and some cookies.  A "Fika Tray" we can call it. 

Lastly, a few weeks back I tried another rib or frame style basket, which worked well enough, but wasn't one of my best.

I was so happy to find out that in about two weeks, I will be able to work with Jo Campbell-Amsler for five days, learning the basics of willow rib style basketry.  I know I am probably not working the correct technique, so I am looking forward to learning it.

Still....put a few freshly laid eggs in it, and it couldn't look any better!  

I know I really should be sharing more on this blog, and maybe in the coming months I will.  This September I will be starting up some new teaching opportunities, and hopefully spending lots of time creating and working on new baskets.  

I have to keep reminding myself that in the time span that I started making baskets, I really have come a long way.  I remember finding a book on willow basket making and thinking to myself, "there is no way I'll be able to ever be able to do stuff like this" And yet here I am!!!  One of my next goals is to travel internationally (besides Canada) to meet and work with more basket makers.  Every summer holds new opportunites just waiting to be explored.