Winter 2008 I took a weaving class with a girlfriend. She had heard about Søre Skogen in Skjold, Norway through some friends and we headed out for 2 days of willow bending.
Our class had about 10 participants. Two came all the way from Bergen to learn how to make even cooler things for their flower shop and the rest of us were just curious basket loving amateurs.
“Start with a good study bottom.” Our teacher and the Queen of Søre Skogen, Drude, makes everything look incredibly easy but don’t be fooled. You need to coax the willow – not bend it. I have lots of elbows on my basket but after the second day I was getting more persuasive.
We were bitten by the bug. So when Søren Skogen set up their spring weaving class, we showed up eager to learn to make something for the garden. We had seen live willow fences and I was dreaming about planting one of these on our new lot.
A live willow fence is a vulnerable thing. You should estimate about 8 – 10 cutting per meter for a single lattice pattern. The picture on the left is from Living with twisted willow and shows a mature fence possibly planted a bit tighter and oh so lovely.
I had seen willow shelters or huts that I was hoping to learn the secrets too. But all in good time. I think Drude cares deeply for her willows so she wanted us to start with a smaller project and see if we could first keep that alive.
I started off with a small willow ring pictured on the left. The ring is live willow, woven together with dead willow. We placed the live willow in a pot filled with dirt at the desired distance and started weaving it together from the bottom up with good spacing in between. The vertical cuttings will sprout and grow. As you can see here they started sprouting about 3 weeks after planting. They should stay in a pot the first year and get a lot of TLC. After the roots are established the ring can be transferred into the ground. A nice sunny spot please!
Over time it could grow together into a solid circle. I am guessing that not going to happen for another 30 years.
Since out fingers were warmed up we kept the momentum going by putting together a cone-shaped trellis from dried willow. We started by sticking long cuttings in holes punched out from cardboard boxes, cleverly done for this among other weaving assignments. Then on to securing the shape with a solid band around the bottom. After the base was in place we started weaving upwards in a diagonal until we reached the top. Drude showed up how to make a very classy knot on the top. Here pictured planted with hops.
Next class I would love to make a nice tomato plant stake like they are making at Willows Nursery. A couple of these and I might be able to keep my cocktail tomatoes from running amok.
One of the things I am hoping to do while in Germany is finding some classes so I can learn more weaving techniques. England and Germany supposedly have active weaving climates. How fun would it be to make something like this?
Here are some links to weavers in the area. Not that I understand much of it but I am looking forward to figuring it out!
German Basket Museum – if you are really interested
Flechtwerk Dieter Deringer– basketmaker and teacher in southern Germany
Flechtwerk Hamburg – woven fences and room dividers in Hamburg
De Vlechterij – woven fences and classes just a bit south of Amsterdam
Peter Sturms Kunstgeflecht und Weidenwerke – furniture design and workshops