Basketmaking, chair seating and willow work

Flexible basketry structures – looping, netting and knotting with Tim Johnson

Ref: S5D08856


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About this course

Looping, netting and knotting have been used for over 20,000 years to make a wide variety of baskets, traps and garments around the world. In this workshop you will explore these ancient technologies learning the processes of fibre harvesting and preparation, cordage making and creating your own contemporary bags, baskets and wall hangings with natural and recycled materials .

Course Description

Beginning with identifying suitable plants, harvesting and processing native plant fibres and making string, you will go on to explore the contrasting techniques of looping and knotted netting.

Tim will bring along part of his collection of flexible basketry including examples from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Mexico and Cambodia. Handling these original artefacts will encourage both the close analysis of structure and further experimentation with material and structure combinations. Reference will also be made to contemporary artists and basketmakers that have since the 1960s extended the creative scope and application of flexible structures.

• The first day of the course will focus on identifying suitable native and garden plants and learning about harvesting techniques and fibre processing. You will use a variety of natural fibres including rush, cooked willow bark, beaten esparto grass and purple moor grass to create beautiful lengths of cordage that can be used in many basketry techniques. Tim will teach and demonstrate a variety of string making methods from around the world using our hands, legs, teeth and the occasional special tool!

• The second and third days of the course will focus on the many variations of looping found in traditional string bags, firstly learning the basic techniques and then experimenting with both structural variations, material combinations and design considerations leading to both finished pieces and a number of samples.

• The fourth and fifth days will focus on netting techniques which in contrast to looping uses a number of needles, gauges and pre-prepared or purchased threads, strings and cordage. Netting provides ample opportunity for experimentation with diverse materials and structural combinations leading to works exploring scale, density, drape-ability and transparency.


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 course fee includes the cost of rush, and other materials provided by the tutor for use during the course. (If you use a large quantity you may be charged extra.)

What students need to bring

  • The tutor will bring a selection of basket-making tools but please bring along any you have including:
  • Secateurs, clippers, pocket knife, scissors
  • Water sprayer/mister bottle
  • Large needles, bodkin etc.
  • An apron
  • Optional - any interesting plant materials you may have in your garden and may like to incorporate
  • Essential - fully covered footwear in the workshop

Available to buy

  • Bodkins/large needles (upholstery)


Tim Johnson

Over the past 25 years, artist and basketmaker Tim Johnson has explored the relationships of material, place, nature and culture. His diverse creative practice encompasses basketmaking and performance, photography and painting, sculpture and installation, textiles and costume, his work has been exhibited internationally.


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

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