Monday, 23 September 2013

A haaaaandbag?!

Posing outside Debbie's enviable studio
I've made a lot of baskets over the years, big ones, small ones, all shapes and sizes. Mostly they have been in rattan (cane), some have been coloured with natural dyes, others with terrifyingly lurid chemical concoctions, but none of them come close to the glorious colours of good old English willow. I don't have space to grow my own (to my husband's everlasting relief) so rely on local growers to supply obscure varieties, and on the internet for the rest. 

Base before trimming

One of the people who sells the loveliest varieties is Debbie Hall, of Salix Arts, which is about a 20 minute drive from me. She is also a very talented artist and a wonderful teacher, so when I saw her offering a day course to make her new handbag basket design, I leaped at the chance. A few weekends back, on a very sunny Saturday a group of us gathered and worked together to produce a variety of interpretations of her design.

This oval shaped basket is a bit more complicated to set up than a round basket but actually ended up producing wonderful results, possibly because we were all expecting it to be tricky and thus concentrated extra hard on each stage.

Looking more like a basket now
One of the best parts of weaving for me is how using different colours and different weaves produces very different baskets. Mine is clearly related to Debbie's original and to the others produced on the day, but it isn't the same shape or size as any of them. And initially that bothered me, and I felt a little disappointed with myself - but now I have used it more I realise that while it's too big to be a handbag, it is an incredibly useful shopper/picnic basket. And I love the fact that the while the handle on the original is firmly fixed in place, my handle swings jauntily. 


Just the right size!
I will make this style again, and I'll definitely use a branch handle again, but I think I can guarantee it won't look exactly like this first one - and that's just fine with me!

I must admit, I cook in much the same way - but what about you? Do you like to put your own stamp on projects? Or do you only feel you've succeeded if you reproduce an item exactly according to the instructions? I'd love to hear!





25 comments:

  1. Gorgeous basket! I did not know willow comes in so many different colors.
    I'm pretty much like you, I think. When I make something, it is more important to end up with something useful that makes me happy to look at, than to duplicate something exactly. Or even to necessarily end up with what I thought I was making in the first place! Some of my most satisfying results have come from off-the-cuff experiments.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think I've ever replicated a pattern/design exactly! I always adapt and use different materials.
    Your basket is gorgeous, and I particularly like the handle! It's very Nordic, like those Sarpaneva cooking pots, perfect for a picnic in the woods or picking autumnal fruits and nuts xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ooo! I love that basketty bag. I know exactly what you mean about replicating things. I have just had five lovely friends around for lunch and made soup from Covent Garden Soups recipe book. Kind of. Because I didn't have all the ingredients listed, and then I didn't do much measuring. One of them asked for the recipe, cue lots if Ummmm and Errrrrr.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just think this is the most beautiful thing! I love that curvy handle.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow Val it's beautiful, such stunning colours - you definitely need to make more. I think the fact that everyone brings a little of themselves into any project is part of the magic of handmade.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love it - especially the handle! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh Val, it is gorgeous! And I love the projects that have an element of chance or variation in them, so that I get a surprise rather than just the expected outcome.

    And apart from with baking, I cannot follow a recipe to save my life - there must always be creative embellishment!

    ReplyDelete
  8. That is blooming awesome Val! I've just remembered - we never came up in the Summer...long story - I'll tell you it one day.

    Nina x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fabulous basket... and so much better for being that little bit original. Where's the fun in an exact copy?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think it's lovely that no two are the same! I love the colours in your basket.....beautiful! :)
    V xxx

    ReplyDelete
  11. How very lovely and eye catching, I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I definately like it to have a Caro twist, and not look the same as the original! Beautiful basket ;-)
    www.caroandthegulls.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow -- It's beautiful! I prefer to have my projects be just a bit different than the original -- even if it's to only add my initials. Your basket looks perfect from here -- and SO functional!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Gorgeous basket, Val! Very pleasing shape.

    I'm with you, it's nice to have a bit of variation, there's no fun to be had in carbon copies.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ooh, nice. And I love the idea of a swingy handle. Repetition with variation ... who wants everything to be the same :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh it is lovely, I never knew there were so many different colours of willow. The size really shows off the willow to perfection and individuality is the point of handmade, isn't it.
    You are clever!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love it. As for my efforts, I'm just pleased if they vaguely resemble what they're supposed to be.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a fabulous basket - I love the handle. I like to try to make things similar to the instructions/recipe/pattern but always find myself adding just bit more spice, or colour variation for example. I'm a bit of a bodger and will aim to follow the plan but then deviate!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a beauty!
    Even if I tried to exactly replicate something, it would not work, there is something in my nature that gets in the way.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a beautiful basket - the colours of the willow really glow. It would make a perfect knitting basket and you'd get lots in it!

    I tend to vary between following something properly and doing my own thing. It very much depends on what it is but if it's supposed to look like something and then doesn't I do get fed up! Maybe that's why I prefer doing my own thing cos then no-one will know if it's wrong :)

    Moogs xx

    ReplyDelete
  21. So lovely!
    Really pretty and your right just the right size. Just wonderful x

    ReplyDelete
  22. so beautiful, wonderful colours and perfect as a handbag!! Ruth (twohippos)

    ReplyDelete
  23. It's absolutely wonderful, clever you. I love willow baskets, I really wish I could make them. I do love that yours is completely unique. This is the charm of handmade.

    ReplyDelete
  24. it's just beautiful!!

    (and out of interest... how much would you charge for something like that?)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving me some feedback! I love reading your comments and I do my best to reply to them. If Blogger gives me your email address, or if I can find one on your blog I'll try to reply by email; otherwise I'll reply in the comments here.