Braided rush baskets, in English and Spanish traditions with Tim Johnson

Basketmaking, chair seating and willow work

Ref: S5D11727

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About this course

Learn to make multiple stranded rush braids and then stitch them together, edge to edge, to weave your own bags and baskets, including an English frail basket. These techniques are used in distinct Spanish and English traditions.

Course Description

The braided rush basket techniques explored on this course draw on the expertise of Tim’s practice as an English artist and basketmaker based in Catalonia, Spain. Over recent years Tim has researched and practised the variety of braid patterns commonly used in the English, Spanish and North African palm, esparto grass and rush basketmaking traditions. Stitched together, edge-to-edge, these braids are used to create a wide variety of functional domestic and rural baskets, though the traditions are similar, you will learn about their distinctive features and contrasting stitching techniques creating variety in pattern and texture.

You will work on two contrasting projects:

• You will make an English frail, dating back to at least the 12th century. This distinctive basket with two handles and a fitted lid was used by farmworkers to take their lunch to the fields and was traditionally made with rush, yellow flag iris or grass depending on local availability.

• In contrast to your English frail you will then work in a more complex seven or nine strand braid and learn the invisible stitch technique from the Mediterranean tradition where your braid selvedges interlock creating a strong fabric to make a bag or basket of your own design.

This workshop aims to give a good foundation in contrasting traditions and offers the possibility of both making a traditional piece and a contemporary design of your own making.


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 until 9pm, 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


  • Chair seating rush and Coopers rush supplied for the course.

What students need to bring

  • Scissors, water sprayer, cloth to keep your work damp, notebook
  • Any needles/bodkins and hemp string, additional strings and threads you have
  • Scissors, or a pair of sharp secateurs
  • 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
  • Available from tutor:
  • Tim will supply appropriate needles and hemp string, additional strings and threads will be available for sale.
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


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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