Sunday, February 3, 2013

Learning new techniques and honing your skills

Everything new is difficult (for most people, I believe) but perfect practice makes much better perfect. Just think of - if you remember - the first time you tried to ride a bike, write letters, knitting etc. The same is true for making willow baskets.

After I made my first willow basket at a course in Denmark in May 2008 I, unfortunately,  didn't have the opportunity to go home and practice. I simply didn't have any basketry willow yet and I couldn't find any to buy or a teacher who could help. I made my second basket almost one year later in February 2009 with a friend and not until June 2010 did I have my third opportunity to weave with willow at a four day class instructed by Jo Campbell Amsler.

Later that year I had enough dried willow to start making willow bird feeders and slowly I ventured into willow basketry on my own.

When I participated in the HandMade Market for the first time in September 2011, I just had various bird feeders and a few woven trees for sale.

During a visit to Denmark in spring 2011 I went to see Anne Mette Hjornholm - who is one of Denmark's very talented willow basket makers. Take a look at her web-site which now also has an English version. We discussed the possibility of her teaching a course here in spring of 2012 and by the fall of 2011 we knew that it could be arranged. Anne Mette's visit and class here was very successful and gave me an enormous boost.

Different techniques and baskets were taught at the class and in July I met with 3 other students from the class for 3 wonderful days at the Toronto Island working on - and sharing with each other - some of the new techniques learned from Anne Mette.

In the meantime I attended "Willow Gathering 2012" in Decorah, Iowa in June. What a wonderful event! Again I had an opportunity to learn new techniques from a very skilled teacher Katherine Lewis. The rest of the summer and fall was spent practicing my learned skills and I'll tell you: Nothing beats practice in perfecting your skills. I'm getting there.
Rope coil baskets 
Small shopper

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.

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