Friday, 18 February 2011

~ willow and weaving ~

Willows are, of all trees, the most mysterious.
It is said that they were the first of trees; 
that before a bird sang or a bee quested for honey
the world was full of willow forests.
Mary Webb

Some of the baskets that I have thrifted, been gifted, or made myself

They all get used for something and I get such simple enjoyment when I grab a basket which may be filled with fibres, needle felting materials, or willow weaving tools.

For many years I wanted to try to weave a willow basket. I find that I have little confidence to try things out by myself, although I am working on that, so I finally found a course and made my very first waste basket....the one in the top photo, right hand side, top. I loved the whole process, finding a primal need satisfied. The teacher gave me this piece of writing she had found, which describes perfectly the feeling many have when they weave:

I sat on the stump of an oak. In my jeans pocket I had only a small wire cutter. I was weaving a basket of bittersweet vines that had climbed up and around a nearby tree and then spilled over onto an adjacent stone wall.
I was alone (not a house or human in sight), yet I could hear the insistent voice of a wood pewee all the while I sat there.
The vines were rough on my hands - and strong - but the basket was beginning to take shape. The air was balmy and cool. A box turtle walked past my stump. The wood pewee continued its calling.

I wove.

I was serene and happy. I was ancient in that I felt more kinship than ever before with my ancestral sisters who somewhere, sometime, probably labored at the same craft (though for different reasons) and perhaps heard the same wood pewee.
My senses were alert to sounds and smells as my hands worked along the vines. I looked ahead to fall, when the plant would yield the beautiful red-orange berries I would arrange in a tall crock that sat by the wood stove.
Hours later, I contemplated the finished basket. It was large, heavy, and crudely woven, but it remains one of my favourite baskets to this day. The finished piece represents a day of pleasantly wandering thoughts when I walked into the woods empty-handed and returned home with a basket.

Isn't that beautiful? I just wish I knew who wrote it.
A few years after that first waste basket, I found myself working on a willow farm, planting, taking care of, weeding around, cutting and weaving willows into tunnels, tipis and balls for rabbits to play with and nibble on. 

Making a tunnel for a rabbit to play in and chew on
I still go back there for soul~feeding visits and stay there when I house~sit

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