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.
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.
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.
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.
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.