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 😬

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 🍊orange


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

Raw wool is just an amazing material . It arrives claggy with mud, straw and grass, a couple of rinses in warm water and here you are

Like a physical cloud of white, ready to be hung out to dry or to be mordanted using an alum mordantthen ready for dyeing, this time I’m trying brown onion skins. To my delight, I had last year’s onions in a basket and over time they had disintegrated into their dry shells, perfect for going into the dye pot…

As you can see not many onion skins are needed to make an impressively strong dye

I’m adding water to dilute the dye so that all the wool is covered

This is now standing overnight to see what happens…

Time to dye some wool today #romneymarsh #natural #dyes