October 2013 Newsletter

Hello everyone,

Autumnal greetings from Blacksmiths Cottage! I’ve been having a ‘work’ writing day today which has given me a glorious guilt free excuse for sitting in my favourite armchair by the big arched window in the living room, looking out into the beautiful back garden. Autumn definitely seems to have arrived, and the back lawn that was just last week an expanse of clear lush green is now littered with the first golden leaves fallen from the plum and cherry. Earlier I was writing notes for a talk on Willow Sculpture and Community Projects that I will be giving at the Basketmakers’ Association AGM on the 19th October, and looked up to see (framed by the gently nodding blooms of the Japanese Anenomes) a green woodpecker rhythmically pecking at the lawn for insects, its vivid red crown bobbing in and out of view – just amazing!

I’ve had a super busy summer with interesting projects and lots of teaching and I am afraid I have sadly neglected my facebook page and newsletters over the past couple of months. It has been fabulous to make the most of finally having a ‘proper’ summer, but now that Autumn is here again, I plan to keep you all a little better updated on the willow front, and post lots of lovely pics of what I’ve been up to (like this shooting star – a commissioned wedding anniversary present – willow is apparently what you give to celebrate your 9th year of marriage!) oct13-star

Those of you that have visited the SalixArts website recently will have noticed that it has had a bit of a revamp, with a slightly different look and layout and a few new pics. At the moment the content is still much the same, but plans are afoot to add lots more and expand on some of the existing stuff, and I would be most grateful for any suggestions of things you’d like to find there.

One exciting addition is a link to our new Etsy shop (thanks go to  Polly, my eldest daughter for sorting this out for me!)

oct13-westhope The workshops have been going well and it seems like there have been loads! Towards the end of September I taught a willow handbags course for the Basketmakers Association at Westhope Craft College in Shropshire. This was a fantastic experience – Westhope was a delightful place, and it was great for everybody to have the immersion that you get from being on a residential course. Students could use the rooms in the evenings, and a couple of people made 3 baskets over theweekend! – see the lovely collection in the photo.


I shall be running another handbags course next year, but if you can’t wait until then I’m offering those with a little experience (2+ baskets) the opportunity to make what you like on the 2 day basket workshop on Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th October. If you would like to do this, please let me know asap as I need to be soaking the willow.


And on the subject of workshops, the Bird Lovers on 27th Oct and Christmas Decorations on 30thNovember are both now full, but there all still places on the 2 day Basket Workshops on 23rd & 24th October, and 16th & 17th Nov, and on the Evening Bark Bangles workshop on 21st November.

Remember too that I can arrange workshops on a day to suit you. If you and a friend want to do something together I am now offering day workshops here for two at £220 (£110 each), for three at £255 (£85 each) and four at £280 (£70 each). This includes all materials and lunch. Also, if you want me to advertise your workshop on the website, we might get other bookings, thereby reducing your costs.

After chatting with a couple of friends about the pleasure of creating, talking, and eating in good company, and the beauty of homemade cards (as well as the horrendous price of bought ones) I am planning a day of making cards, gift tags and wrapping paper, here at Blacksmiths, in the studio, on Monday 25th November. The cost will be fairly minimal for the whole day, just to cover the cost of materials which I will provide, and lunch will be a bring and share affair. I have lots of lovely stamps and lush paper, but you’ll be welcome to bring your own too – the more we can share the better! If you want to know more, then please get in touch for a chat, as I haven’t put it on the website.

oct13-perigord I am off to a willow course myself this weekend, to learn how to make the amazing Perigord Basket, a French basket that was originally for potato harvesting. It is made using a spiral technique that I’ve not tried before, so I’m really rather excited. I’ll try and post pics of my weekends progress on the facebook page! 

I am aware that this is turning out to be rather long, but I just have 2 more things to mention. Recently I have been experimenting with freezing soaked willow for a couple of reasons – it allows you to use soaked willow without having to plan what you want 3 weeks in advance, and it saves wastage if you soak too much. Anyway, it works really well, but I can’t wrap much willow round my tiny freezer drawer, so I am on the look out for a large chest freezer (5ft ish) to put in my willow shed…..so please keep your eyes peeled and ask around for me!

Finally, a friend sent me a link to this willow piece about Tom Hare’s sculptures on the BBC website. Do check it out – they’re amazing http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24473667

Have a fabulous weekend,

Warm wishes,