The Story of Willow
The willow I use is almost all home grown. That is one of the rare points of interest for me. To have my own product which I grow myself, prepare and then use to make the baskets. In addition although I do produce a small number of baskets for selected retailers, for the most part I am the sole seller of my works by private commission.
I do use a small percentage of willow grown on the Somerset levels, in England. My own willow is grown in a basketmaker’s set up in “Sally Gardens or Willow Beds”. It is a “crop” and grown like any crop; in rows.
Black plastic or some type of weed deterrent is put on top of the soil or grass and weighed down. Cuttings of approx. 12” are driven in thru’ the plastic into the soil and there they grow.
Willow grows easily and despite the fact that it grows between April and October when the first frost comes stopping growth, each winter it must be cut down to the “Scutt” when the sap is down in the root. Cut, left bundled and exposed to the wind and rain it is ready to be used in approx 10 weeks. When it gets too dry, it has to be stored inside, and soaked when needed which is an art in itself.
The different colours you see are natural and not dyed colours. They are the different varieties of willow and basketmakers grow them for the colour they give to the basket. Nothing is dyed, stained or painted, neither are they varnished. Just natural.
All the images on this page have been reproduced with the kind permission of Makers & Brothers