Basketmaking, chair seating and willow work

Willow basketmaking – round or square baskets with lids with Mary Butcher

Ref: S3D09959


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Places available

About this course

Learn how to weave flat or curved lids, and other finishing-off details. Explore British willow basketmaking traditions for round or square work while gaining knowledge of basket history.

Course Description

This course will concentrate on the final stages of finishing a basket in ways which are not always possible on courses without this focus. As well as making baskets from scratch, you will also be encouraged to make sample lids, which can be used for alternative methods of finishing edges, adding decorative detail, and for various fixtures and fittings.

Lids for round baskets may be made to sit on top, or on a variety of ledges which can be formed in a number of ways and be either outside or inside the basket. Those for square lids must be carefully set up to fit the basket exactly, and can be adapted for square or English blunt corners.

You will gain a good knowledge of the basic basket and the variations that are possible, and also all of the finishing off details to give a professional touch.

You will work on projects of your choice, after discussion with the tutor, and there will be group demonstration, a close look at baskets from the tutor’s collection or of objects you may have brought in.

Hampers, lunch boxes and baskets for the kitchen or desk make excellent presents or are appealing in a craft market. They can be varied with different side weaves, with white, buff or brown willow, and with flat or curved lids, which make very attractive small square baskets.


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


  • Willow supplied on the course. An extra charge may be requested for large or multiple items, this should be paid to the Craft Shop if requested at the end of the course.

What students need to bring

  • Tools may be borrowed from the tutor but please bring as many of the following as you have available (but do not buy anything especially before you come):
  • For willow basketmaking:
  • Tape measure, ruler – at least 1 ft long,
  • 2–3 spring clothes pegs
  • Pair of sharp secateurs (preferably parrot-beak shape), and a good pen knife
  • Small hammer or rapping iron
  • Basketmaker's bodkin (at least 5") – can be borrowed from the tutor
  • Side or wire cutters
  • A couple of large old towels
  • Sturdy covered footwear in the workshop – this is an essential health and safety requirement.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Masking tape
  • Basketmakers’ bodkins
  • Notebook and pencil


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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