Christine de Beer - effortless floral craftsman
Willow and Vine tiny stem Gathering Basket
- 19 April 2023
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I am building my small gathering basket around two glasses but any water tight container will be perfect.
You will need a small bunch of fresh willow. This time of the year you can usually buy a few rods... or even better grow some yourself. Test the willow to make sure it is fresh and flexible. Soak the stems in warm water if they are not as flexible as you might need. You will find a more detailed Tutorial below where I show you how to manipulate weaving stems.
Yes, even in a pot... on your balcony... like I do. Growing a coppice willow patch is easy and inexpensive but it will take time and space. To read more about growing a coppice garden head on over to the Plant Something BC to read my new article. My monthly flower arranging inspiration articles is a floral design companion for this initiative.
Wrap the stem around the first glass...
Extending the willow stem all the way around the second glass in a figure eight. Move this figure eight to the bottom of the glasses so that it rests on your working surface.
Weave the stem as you would weave a wreath. If you are unsure about weaving a wreath see the Tutorial below.
Wrap a second weaving willow stem around the first glass.
Weave this willow stem into a figure eight...
This stem will rest in the middle...
Push it down temporarily to make it easier for you to weave the last figure eight.
And start to weave the third figure eight...
And secure it by weaving the stem in on itself.
Space out the willow stems to have a figure eight at the top and middle and bottom.
Take a step back and look at the three figure eights. Weave in a few thinner rods around the figure eights where it needs more support or needs to be bulked up.
This is as much decorative as it is supportive. Start thinking about the whole look of your basket. Would you like to have the three supports to be separate or would you like to start combining them? Add your personality into the design of your basket.
Weave in rods to make sure the support is strong and secure.
Look at the glasses form all angles and move the figure eights to be straight and neat. The stems will dry in this way so make sure it looks pretty from all angles.
Turn the glasses bottom side up and measure three willow stems to start the base of the basket.
Space out the willow stems so that the glasses will rest on this when turned upright.
Cut the willow stems with a sharp knife to strip away the bark. This step is optional. I wanted to make rope from the bark fibers and love the look of the stems so much that I decided to combine it.
If you want to make the basket without stripping some of the rods simply continue with that and use rope to secure it later. But if you want to give it a try... I have a Tutorial below with more information on how to strip bark from willow.
Strip the bark from the willow stem.
Keep the bark part for making basic cordage.
I am using stripped stems for both the base and the handle.
Rip the bark and scrape off the green outer layer to prepare the fibers for twisting into a rope.
Making your own string is such a pretty way to add a natural element to your work. I deliberately make my cordage imperfect. I leave a bit of imperfections so that it looks handmade.
This is again where you add your own style to the design. If you want to learn more about basic cordage turn to page 46 of my book. For more information about my book:
The Effortless Floral Craftsman
Twist two willow stems together to start crafting the handle.
Bend the handle willow rods from the one side to the other over the glasses.
Secure the handle to the figure eight supports with your string.
And secure two support sticks to the base sticks with your string.
Book readers turn to page 49 for knot advice. Also I have a tip for you about securing knots... permanently. that I wanted to discuss in more detail so I added it into our email for this week. If you are not yet receiving my once a week email you can sign up below this post. Also, I would love to hear from you. Reply to the email if you have questions or comments... or say hi. It is always wonderful to hear what you are working on at the moment.
Place the glasses on the base...
And knot it at every connection point to secure.
Lift the basket by the handle to test to make sure it is secure... and adjust or add knots where needed.
Weave in willow stems over the handle and around the figure eights. This not only breaks the weaving pattern to add a bit more interest and make it look more crafted but also makes the basket more secure.
Focus the stems you add to support all the knots especially where it carries weight. So add stems all the way over the handle and then weave it around the connection points.
And over and around the knots that connect the figure eights to the handle.
And over and around where the knots connect the figure eights to the base.
For my basket I also used vines to add a delicate twining finishing touch. You can continue with thinner willow rods but I wanted to make the design look overgrown... so I used jasmine vines to finish the weave.
Simply weave the vines in and around and over and under the entire basket...
Again test the basket and add in vines if you need more support.
One side is perfect for keeping your cutters...
You can even add a bit of liquid to sterilize the cutters on the go or to rinse it if you are cutting milky stems... or use both if you need to keep the stems separate- looking at you daffodils.
Add water to the other glass...
To hydrate your harvest on the go.
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