Last weekend I went on a willow weaving course run by Windrush Creative to learn how to make my own garden supports – wigwams for growing sweet peas and beans up; supports for perennials such as Delphiniums and Peonies etc.
The course took place at Cogges Manor Farm which is in Witney, Oxfordshire. Cogges is a Victorian Working Farm and is operated by a Heritage Trust who lease the farm from Oxfordshire County Council. It is a magical place, great for a day out with children and where you can feed the animals and explore the beautiful Farm House.
Because the weather was so lovely we worked outside which gave lots of visitors to the farm an opportunity to see what we were doing. Our lovely tutor Linda gave us lots of help and guidance and started us off making a willow wigwam. This involved using 8 strong willow uprights (straight willow branches) to form a circle, before beginning to weave thinner willow in and out of the uprights.
It took me a while to get the hang of twisting the willow in and out of the uprights but once I got going I made my wigwam pretty quickly and also used Cornus to inject some red.
You can use the same techniques for making a hurdle fence
I had a lovely day and Windrush are so professional and lovely. They provided us with a gorgeous home made lunch of baked potatoes, home made salads, bread and cake and there was a selection of tea, coffee, water and biscuits available all day. The course ran from 10am until 4pm and for £69 including lunch I though it was fantastic value for money.
When I was at Unravel last week, one of the exhibitors was Jenny Barnett. Jenny is an extremely talented artist who for many years worked as a designer in the ceramics industry for companies such as Wedgwood and Coalport. Now she works with wool fleece and cloth and produces needle felted sculptures which are exquisite in their detail.
The kit I bought was to make a fox. My first choice had been a Hare but Jenny had sold all her Hare kits so I opted for Mr Fox. Jenny provides everything you need to make a model; the wool fleece (roving),needles for stabbing the fleece which felts it and makes it hold structure and even the beads for the eyes and the needle and thread to sew them on. You can buy kits from Jenny here
The instructions were very clear and included drawings of what to do at each step. I started off making the body by taking a piece of the fleece
and rolling it into a cone shape before stabbing it with the thicker of the two needles provided until it looks something like a stalactite, shown on the right of the picture below. I then started to make the face using the sponge provided as something to anchor the shape onto and to have something to stab the needle into rather than the kitchen table.
Next came the ears..it looks a bit more like a fox face now…
Then I sewed on the eyes and made a little nose before joining the head to the cone shaped body. Four little rolls of fleece became the legs and another the tail before adding details onto the chest and end of the tail so that it became…
Overall I was really pleased with the end result. The older boys recognised it as a fox; Littlest thought it was a dog and E just laughed..but I really enjoyed making him and now he needs a friend so Mr Hare will be ordered soon.