Basketmaking, chair seating and willow work

Willow basketmaking for garden produce with Mary Butcher

Ref: S3D08900


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About this course

Explore weaving techniques for a variety of traditional or non-traditional willow baskets used for foraging, flowers or storing garden produce. Make round, oval or square work as you gain a good knowledge of basket structure, using our traditional weaves for base, sides and border, to make strong handles, or other details as appropriate to your basket.

Course Description

Many of us are now more aware of the need for healthy food and less invasive growing methods, hence more of us are growing vegetables and fruit on balconies, in raised beds, or on an allotment, as space allows. These can be transported in traditional or non-traditional willow baskets of various sizes and shapes. This course will investigate some of these possibilities of making suitable baskets used for foraging or in the house for fruit and vegetable storage, as well as for carrying flowers for arranging in the house, they make attractive containers for the kitchen. Please come with any ideas of baskets you may have seen in magazines or shops and any measures you might need if you wish to use them for storage.

During the course you will gain a good knowledge of basket structure, using our traditional weaves for base, sides and border, an ability to make a strong handles, to twist willow for small handles, and other details as appropriate to the basket. You will also have some knowledge of basket history, willow growing, harvesting, preparation and use.

You will work on individual projects, following a discussion with the tutor. There will be group demonstrations, observation of completed objects and samples, by discussion with the group and individually with the tutor.

Please note: we will not be making Sweet Pea cones or other structures to support plant growth as these are covered on other courses.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • The cost of the willow supplied on the course is included. However, an extra charge may be payable for large or multiple items, this should be paid to the College Craft Shop if requested.

What students need to bring

  • Tape measure
  • Notebook and pencil
  • 2-3 spring clothes pegs
  • Pair of sharp secateurs (preferably 'parrot-beak' shape)
  • Small hammer or rapping iron
  • Ruler - at least 1 ft long
  • A good pen knife
  • Side or wire cutters
  • A couple of large old towels
  • Please wear covered footwear in the workshop - this is an essential health and safety requirement.
  • Tools may be borrowed from the tutor but please bring any on the list if you already have them.

Available to buy

  • Basketmaker's bodkin (at least 5")
  • Masking tape


Mary Butcher

Mary Butcher is a basketmaker, exhibition curator, writer and teacher. She held a prestigious crafts residency at the V&A's Sackler Centre in 2009. Recent exhibitions include 'This Beloved Earth', The Barony, West Kilbride, Scotland, 'Basketry Making Human Nature' at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich 2012, Re-Making the Past from the Devon Guild of Craftsmen and tour, 2014 (a study in Bronze Age Creativity) and 'Dimensions' in Denmark, 2016. She received an MBE for services to basketmaking in 2012 and one of two Crafts Skills Champions Awards in 2013.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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