Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Flexible Willow Soaking Facility

When I was ready to use my first harvest of willow - dried for basketry - a couple of years ago, I decided to start small and my husband made me two pipes for soaking the willow.
The pipes are resting on a wooden frame in our utility room where the temperature is always around 20 degrees Celsius so it is not a problem to soak willow during the winter months. In the summertime I sometimes move the pipes outside in the sun where the temperature gets much higher which speeds up the whole process.
The pipes have screw caps in both ends. I open one end, fill the pipe with bundles to be soaked and cap the pipe again. Each pipe has a 5cm hole for filling it with water using my garden watering can and for emptying it again siphoning with a thin hose.

This has worked well except for the fact that the pipes are too small if I want to soak willow for more than one project. I really regret that I didn't invest in larger pipes as it can be a little tricky to get the bundles in and out when I stuff as much as possible in there.

This summer my resourceful husband made me a new, very flexible soaking facility.

A wooden box that expands as needed. The sides of the box are 8 feet long and the ends are 1, 2 or 4 feet long. The height is 1 foot.
The boards are easily assembled with large bolts.

After the box is assembled, I line it with a double layer of 6 mill plastic. Then I ad just enough water to cover the bottom which makes it easy to smooth out the plastic into all the corners and I can fill it with as much water as needed.

Even though the frame is just 12 inches high, it is amazing how much willow can be soaked in the smallest box.

The willow is weighed down with a few large stones.
Several batches of willow can be soaked without changing the water. It is, however, easy to empty the container for water and afterwards the plastic can easily be cleaned outside on the lawn.

When not in use, the boards require minimal space for storage.

The Danish blog 'Piletossen' has a great, very thorough post about soaking willow. It is written in Danish, but I believe that you can use Google Translate with a decent result.
Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.