Sunday, February 1, 2009

Willow baskets

The opportunity to make baskets, bird feeders, plant supports, and other smaller, woven items was not my main reason for growing willow.
As I did a lot of research about willow, I visited lots of Danish web-sites showcasing very beautiful, unique, and artistic works of art - most often displaying an unbelievable range of colors due to the bark on the willow. During that process and later on, after I had planted my first field, I felt that my knowledge of willow would be missing something if I didn't know how to weave a basket. I started to search for willow basket making classes in Ontario, but became very discouraged as I could not find anything - not a willow grower, not a teacher, not an interest group, no on-line willow forums.
So I decided to make a trip to Denmark to visit family and at the same time take in a two day class to make a basket.
My first weaving experience was at a week-end course with Anne Folehave who is one of Denmark's most experienced and accomplished basket makers and teachers.
The image of the oval basket is from Anne's site.

The Danish willow weavers association "Pileforenigen" has an excellent web-site with lots of links for those interested in more.
I finished the basket and brought it home as "carry on" on the plane. The sun and the rusty colour in one of my sedums are really highlighting the basket here.
Well, through my membership in the Danish willow weaver's association I contacted a member in West Virginia who referred me to a willow grower and weaver in South-western Ontario. What I could not find through the internet I was lead to through a Danish association - isn't that just wonderful!!
Monday and Tuesday last week I went to visit Frances for the second time and this time we were going to make baskets together. She is very knowledgeable and experienced in weaving baskets and she now became my second teacher.
And here is my friend Frances, busy weaving. Visit her at her blog.
These baskets are made from "wild" willow collected in nature. The rods have been dried and then soaked before use to become flexible again so they can be woven without breaking.
And here it is, my second basket. And yes, it is obvious that it is the work of a beginner - but, hey I made it.


  1. I am just in awe...I love to weave but have only done those little bitty pine needle baskets, and its been years! Your basket is marvelous!

  2. Thank you so much - farmer (Kim?) - for visiting and for your comments. A few more baskets and they should get better.

  3. Thanks, salix-willows, will work on my blog. Your photos are beautiful and so is your basket. Look forward to seeing the new handles.


  4. Så dejligt Lene! Jag önskar verkligen that could make baskets, I have always wanted to learn how. I know the Danish are very good at it and perhaps one day I could go down to Denmark and have a go.
    Very nice post Lene.

    Ha det gott, kram Tyra

  5. Tak for det Tyra. Jeg har hørt at pileflet er ved at blive populært i Sverige også.

  6. I am very impressed! I don't think I could ever do this!

  7. Hi There! My part of the world is covered with deep snow but nonetheless I would like to weave as soon as I can get down our field into the willow the moose are munching away on.
    I have very little knowledge of weaving although have done some~~my question is ~is it possible to teach ones'self to make baskets? I live a long ways away from being able to go to any classes and do not have close neighbours. The river banks are covered in wild willows and I would love to weave some baskets. Do you have any hints for someone like me? Is there a special time of the year to use the willow?
    I love your photos.

  8. Hi Roxanne
    Thank you for stopping by.
    Sounds like you really have Winter. I would suggest that you contact/stop by at Frances's blog (just click on her name in my post). She is very experienced in basket making and is able to direct you much better than I am.
    You should cut the willow while it is dormant - so get out there as soon as the snow melts.

  9. I am very impressed with your approach to the Willows. I get it now. I've had a similar life-long connection to Apple trees. Thence the Mac, Apple Computer, first son named Jonathan, etc. But I'm now newly enchanted with the color of the willow you chose for Shirl's dessert island. I'm also very impressed with the dedication to gardening over the long Canadian winter. I was born in Guelph and I have lots of baby pictures in those snows, but I grew up in Southern California. At the moment I'm quite ready for moving on to Springtime!


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