thanks to Debbie-Jane for explaining the varieties of wool available and methods of processing wool, we all agreed that the qualities of Romney Marsh wool are the best!

Such a lovely material to work with, we could feel and smell the lanolin and we all concluded that we wanted to explore the material over the next few weeks……

We shared our thoughts on colours, textures and ideas together. Debbie-Jane demonstrates how to bring real strength to the felting process by turning the wool , wringing it inside a towel and bamboo mat. That a consistent process ie 20wringing actions on each turn of the wool ie 4 ways can bring an exciting finished piece that is tough, practical and shows the great qualities of the Romney wool

The day was very warm and sunny and so we photographed the finished felt piece in the churchyard

Spring has arrived and we are now looking ahead to the possible dyes we can experiment with , this wool has some yellow interwoven into it and the tombstone has yellow lichen!


Keeping cool today : Wet felting at All Saints church Lydd #RomneyMarsh

Today, we manoeuvred our #heritage Looker’s hut from Ivychurch to Old Romney. I was concerned that having spent 2 winters in the churchyard at St George’s in Ivychurch the hut might not cope with being transferred to a HIABE, transport people will understand, a large truck with a winch. I watched as my team of volunteers carefully pushed and pulled our hut up onto the ramp. I’m very pleased to say that the very old chassis structure held and the hut is in one piece๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ

Special 5naks go to Happy HIAB of Old Romney, the Laker family of Lydd and Margaret and Chris who have given their time and support to keep the Looker’s hut as an exhibition space & possibly an artist in residency space

Lookerโ€™s hut is on the move

On Sunday I attended a workshop delivered by Ruby from Native Hands

We learnt how to make a coiled basket using grass as the material. All materials and tools were provided. The materials are grasses that are easily cropped when the meadow grass is high in the summer.

The grass coil was provided as this is a process that takes time and skill so we were given a head start….they look like the curled head of ferns

A tail of grass is then sown into place using a large semi blunt needle and some hemp twine. The making process was very enjoyable and depending on how much grass used reasonably easy. At the end it was evident that some students had used larger coils of grass and we had all a very unique final outcome

The lower basket is mine and I chose to tie in the full ‘tail’ as a finish a double stitch and weave through the main basket was the final method for securing the basket. The workshop lasted for a very pleasurable 6 hours and this might not seem a very functional basket, more a bowl. However I feel as though I could really get to grips with the process and make something taller or larger , I think a particular function ie egg basket or hat or fruit bowl would be a good challenge. Just need to find some materials , one student suggested that a bale of hay might do the trick so…we shall see

The other exciting discovery for me was the tutor showed me a Romney Marsh basket from one of her reference books

I can feel the next project taking shape!,,,

Coiled baskets workshop at Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne

I’ve had to cancel our willow workshop this week, partly because the roads have been treacherous, the church is far too cold and my willow pond is frozen. So the decision was not taken lightly and fully confirmed by Wednesday evening.

Thanks goodness I’ve purchased some great books on #Waterstones #Marketplace

I’m practising my skills using these books, reclaiming just enough willow that I had wrapped in a damp cloth in the back garden. I’m now aware that if the willow is iced over it is still weavable once it has thawed, good to know

So I made this bird house

I like the mix of the different types of willow I’ve had to use to complete it, I had just enough to finish the handle on this herb basket

Are they symmetrical? Are they rustic? Are they functional? Would I use them?

Well mostly yes is the answer and this is the great relationship & adventure between artist and materials. The outcome is not always clear or certain but the learning process is always absolute and enjoyable…..

#snow is still falling

Snow and ice on the marsh is, thankfully, a rare event

Lovely winter sun encouraged us to get the materials ready, so on to the allotment to collect the willow that’s been soaking in the pond

We are going to be working on baskets and some star flowers at Lydd church, although we must remember to wrap up warm. The forecast is saying a major temperature drop ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

This is the star flower design our beginners group will have a go at tomorrow

It has weaves and skills used in basketry , so a good opportunity to practice with both dried and fresh willow

On this sample flower I’ve used brown willow , buff willow and homegrown yellow and I’m pleased with the result

Our last class produced a great deal of waste……but I’m determined nothing is thrown so I usually use dry waste as kindling for the fire this evening. I think we will enjoy the warmth before the big freeze

My lovely neighbour on the allotment has donated some of his willow for tomorrow ….amazing golds, yellows and ๐ŸŠorange

New willow designs and prepping for our class tomorrow in #Lydd

Yesterday’s sunshine was such a treat. The weather encouraged so so many people to do the gorgeous walk from Rye Harbour toward Winchelsea. Such a pleasure to experience the calls of different seabirds, watch flocks of turnstones flying above our heads and enjoy the sun reflected across the marsh and its network of waterways and tributaries.

The high tides this winter have piled the shingle higher than usual and exposed the original wooden sea defences around the Mary Stanford Life Boathouse. These would have been sited by human labour, and it is a testament to their effective structure and strength that they still exist today.

The Mary Stanford Lifeboat (ON661) was a vessel which capsized in Rye Harbour in 1928. The disaster was the worst for many years. It occurred on 15 November 1928 when the whole of the 17 man crew of the Mary Stanford Lifeboat were drowned, practically the whole male fishing population of the small town of Rye.

A memorial is held every year on 15th November at Rye Harbour church

Mary Stanford Life Boat House and sea defences

We are using our withy cuttings , or slips to make our own withy bed. Here’s the one we planted last year

These were plant plugs ie they had roots. We estimate 90% have taken so pleased with one year’s growth

This year we are simply pushing the slips, approx 18 ins long, into the ground. Because we’ve had so much rain, this is an easy job.

We hope to be making more willow products, like these….

Willow work getting us through the winter months

What a great opportunity:to be invited by @Julie_Gurr to help renovation of a withy bed AND to visit the talented and expert basket maker #MaryButcher

We set off from our first rendezvous boys in Iden near Rye took the Roman Rd known locally as Stone Street into Canterbury. This route was a grand tour of the outlying villages of the marsh and great views of the North Downs

Hambrook marshes are located very close to the city centre and is an amazing sanctuary for wildlife and city folk. We had high speed trains on one side and the distant sound of motorway traffic on the other, despite this, it was possible to enjoy the marshes as a nature reserve.these are action shots of volunteers and basket makers cropping the willow and burning the unusable willow. The Withy bed hasn’t been cropped for 5 years so lots of the willow is too big for basketry

I was there to get cuttings to plant a Withy bed at Lydd allotment. The time is running low so the cuttings need to go in before the end of February. I’ve seen cuttings available at the end of people’s garden offered as ‘Slips’ other names are Whips and Setts. I’m interested in growing willow for our workshops and I’m looking forward to the different colours we can use.

We identified this variety as Dicky Meadows and the colour is a beautiful soft yellow. Other colours included various greens, pink and red however the drying process does change the colour so lots more to learn…

Our visit to Mary Butcher included chatting about all the different baskets that are made from around the world. I’ve known of Mary’s work in preserving the basket makers skills form when she worked at City Lit in London. I worked there too but didn’t get to do one of her courses until a year after I moved to the south coast.

If you want to learn about basketry then this is a good place to start!

Visiting Canterbury and seeing its marsh side

We are making baskets inside the ancient walls of All Saints church in Lydd

The sunshine was streaming through the stained glass windows and helping us to keep warm. We have set ourselves the task of learning how to make a basket base using brown willow.

We have cut the rods to approx 8 in diameter, we managed to tie in the slate ok but taking the willow around the structure proved more challenging and pairing the base sticks was definitely taking its toll so….

We all had a hot chocolate and continued

All the students have promised to complete the base and making sure there is a *crown* in other words a curve to the shape

We have the brilliant book by Mary Butcher to guide us through…..

Next week prickin up & upsetting

New year and new willow classes

10/10 for the amazing displays of our workshop products that were available for viewing at All Saints church in Lydd. Students on the wool and willow workshops held at the church were able to celebrate their products and skills during the Xmas fair. They also managed to recruit 3 new students. Fortunately we are planning to continue in the new year so watch this space

Especially if you live in or near Lydd

#Hophub project #artinromneymarsh #art #traditionalskills #wool #willow

thanks go to Annie for the great photos

Seasonal markets and fairs