Sandra Kehoe

Basketmaker & Willow Artist

6 Days at Lakeshore Willows with Steen Madsen

Whever I visit Lakeshore Willows I know that I am going to have an amazing experience.  Last year around this same time I got to meet and work with Steen Madsen for two days at Lene's farm.  This year on his second time visiting, I got to attend all six days of workshops.  I can't even begin to express my thanks to Lene for hosting and to Steen for teaching.  My hands were definitely worn out by the end of the 6 days, but it was totally worth it.   

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In the six days I got to complete 4 baskets and they were all extremely great learning experiences.  I got to make my first two square work willow baskets, a queens fitched basket and a catalan basket. 

I was also lucky enough to bring home some of Lene's gorgeous willow and a brand new bodkin that Steen made.  

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Learning from Steen is such a joy!  I feel like I understand basketry at a much deeper level and I can work with the confidence in knowing that I'm being showed the correct way.  He truly is a master at this craft and I find myself very lucky to be sitting in the classroom learning from him.

My biggest and favorite piece that I made was a fitched square work laundry basket.  I have been using a willow laundry basket that wasn't my own and my goal was to fix that.  The square work was so incredibly fun for me because I am totally OCD and trying to make everything perfect was like a brain massage for me.

Fortunately this year Lene had white, buff and black willow all imported from Spain.  I have seen white willow before but only in very small amounts and none large to work a whole basket with.  I can understand why basket makers prefer this type of willow.  It is very different to work with and it creates a much lighter basket that has the potential to last longer then willow with the bark on.  

I'm already using my laundry basket at home so I think it was a complete success! And the size of it is perfect.   

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The basket pictured below in what's technically called brown willow (aka willow with the bark on) and it was the most amazing learn experience I've had to date.  I learned how to fitch a base, to scallom the stakes and attach them, and to make a very difficult roped handle.  I messed up in many different places including the base, so technically the basket is not very useable, but it is very beautiful.  I have a feeling I will find a use for it on a shelf probably holding willow bark.  

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The last basket I made up during the end of the week was a catalan basket.  A style that comes from spain and was meant as an all purpose kind of basket.  There were a few ladies in my class who were studying this type of basket and I wasn't going to make it, but by the end of the week I needed one more thing to fill up my last two days.  

This was a style that I have always been interested in learning.  I have made similar bases before but this base is slightly different because the stakes are woven into the basket from the start. I also learned a fish scale wale and that gorgeous twisted rope border.

Once I have some more time, I would love to make a few more of these to really get a good handle of the techniques.  BUT, I'm not sure when that is going to happen because I have a full summer of classes to take!!!  Summers are my times to learn and take as many classes as I possibly can.  Hopefully I will find the time to document and blog all of the amazing opportunities I have to learn and baskets I get to make.    

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