Thursday, 5 March 2020

Polish Asymmetrical Basket Weaving

I have always wanted to try basket weaving. Recently a friend  went on a one-day workshop and made a beautiful basket.  I decided to try as well so I enrolled for a one day workshop making a small  asymmetrical basket.  The workshop is held in a wonderful building just outside Durham City: Ushaw Historic House, Chapel and garden.

Ushaw was founded over 200 years ago to educate students for the Catholic priesthood, the vast estate contains buildings designed by Augustus Pugin and his followers, and is one of the most important examples of Victorian Gothic architecture in the North East. It is now a conference centre, bed and breakfast, offers workshops and beautiful gardens to enjoy.

Aerial view of Ushaw
The one day workshop is run by Jo from Abundant Earth.    The Polish asymmetrical basket is made with a solid wooden base, woven willow sides and a wooden handle.

Jo is a very experienced basket weaver.  They have a lovely Facebook page.

 I arrived at 9:45 and waited with the other seven workshop participants in the entrance lobby.
The entrance hall to Ushaw College

There was a a lovely walk to the workshop room

The amazing corridors
This is the tutor's basket - she made it yesterday in three hours!  It is beautiful and so evenly woven.  It is made of willow which she cut herself and dried. Then it was soaked for one week for this workshop.

The asymmetrical Polish basket. 
The workshop was in the William Allen gallery and was designed by Edward Pugin.  It was originally the Natural History Museum of the College and now houses visiting exhibitions and is used as an art gallery.
the workshop was held in the William Allen gallery.

The art work was for sale. There was a display of work  from Jo our tutor.

Display of work by the tutor for sale

Here is my base for the basket.  I had to choose 27 willow rods.

My base
Jo demonstrated how to make the base of the basket. It always looks so easy when an expert is demonstrating.

Jo demonstrating how to begin

the first round

One round complete

Here is my finished base.  I have attached all the upright willow rods and I am about to start the weaving.

I finished the base

I wove about four inches and then it was time for lunch.  I used two colours of willow.

After the morning session

We had our lunch in the Parlour,. This room was originally for the professors so that they could dine away from the students.  It was designed by Edward Pugin.

The parlour - what an amazing place to have lunch.
This is the refectory which is open to the public. This room was designed by Edward Pugin and was the dining hall for the students.  The dinners were eaten in silence. It is now Divines Tearoom and is very popular.

This is the refectory next door
Another view of our dining room.  I have never dined at such a large table with these  amazing candlesticks.
Another view of our lunch room

Back to work in the afternoon.
Weaving one side

Weaving the second side
By four o'clock we had all finished our baskets.  Mine is a bit wonky - but it is supposed to be asymmetrical.
my finished basket 
I had a wonderful day.  It was so absorbing although my fingers are quite sore. Bending willow rods is hard work.

It was really lovely to try a new craft. I have always wanted to try basket weaving.