It’s been ages since I last wrote, been busy, busy, busy! World traveler to England on a McKnight/Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Fellowship Grant studying willow basketmaking and rush seatweaving and basketmaking!
Had a lovely ten days visiting southwestern England. I was fortunate to stay with the President of the Basketmakers’ Association, Olivia Elton Barratt and her husband, John. Olivia and I visited the willow beds at the Summerset Willow Levels and watched how Ellen Musgrove and her husband process willow for basketmaking.
Then we traveled to the Coates Willow Company and toured their museum, and learned all about the Willow Levels area. It’s a flooded area that has deep channels or ditches that drain, making it possible to plant, tend and process the willow commercially for the basketmakers in the area and throughout the world.
Then it was off to watch Felicity Irons and her crew of two, gather bulrush from the Great River Oose. They use flat bottomed boats and sharp sythes that cut the rush way below the surface, making the longest strands possible. Then they are bundled up in huge bolts, washed off a bit and stacked in bundles across the boat at either ends. These boats don’t have motors and are pushed instead with long poles. Most of the time, the work is done up stream, but can also be done going down stream.
I have lots more to write about my trip and will post again soon, after I get all the five rolls of film developed so you can see what I’m talking about.
Ta-Ta and Cherrio! (Although the English do not really say that much.)
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