Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A skill-swap: willow-weaving / linocutting

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who wanted to buy some of my prints and cards; I noticed that her email was from "SalixArts" and she noticed that my studio was only a few miles from hers! When we met a few days later we came up with an idea – a skill-swap :-D

SKILL-SWAP round oneWeaving a willow plant support

Two weeks ago, on a very very wet day, I went to Debbie Hall's workshop to learn some willow weaving techniques that would enable me to make my own plant supports (I was quite excited!)

Debbie grows her own materials and it was fascinating to learn how the different varieties of willow are suited to making different structures; weather conditions at different seasons also affect the willow's growth – for instance a late frost can kill the top bud and this results in growth being twiggy instead of long and straight

So, to work . . . Debbie showed me each stage, then I copied.


It was huge fun! I even forgot that it was chilly and tipping down with rain. By lunchtime I was two-thirds up my willow obelisk plant support. The design cleverly includes a range of techniques which can be used to make up all sorts of garden structures, supports and small fences.


In the afternoon I finished off the obelisk and learned how to fasten the top tightly with a clever Japanese basketry knot.


I was sent home with two big bundles of soaked willow and advice to make another before I had time to forget what I'd learnt. So the next day I spent a few hours creating this . . . which I'm very very pleased with!



SKILL-SWAP round twoCutting a lino block and printing it by hand

Yesterday was my turn to teach Debbie how to cut and print a linocut, we had chatted about possible designs and she arrived with a sketchbook full of ideas. She selected a sketch of three floating feathers with the outline of a hedgerow silhouetted behind them – it had negative and positive shapes and textures.

We both spent the morning carving lino, I found it interesting to have to analyse exactly how I held the cutting tool and how I used my other hand to steady the block. There was a lot of discussion about using just the right amount of pressure. Of course we were so busy no photos got taken!

After lunch we moved on to mixing ink, rolling just the right amount of ink onto the block and hand burnishing the paper to make a print.  I found lots of different paper – so Debbie could see how they all take the ink differently.


Here are some of Debbie's finished prints hanging up to dry . . .


And I learned some teaching tips too, because you never know – they may come in useful.

You can look at more of Debbie's work on her web site or on her facebook page.
The list of her workshops for Autumn 2012 are here.

Celia
x



31 comments:

  1. Very useful plant supports Celia, now you can go and buy some runner bean seed for next spring.{:)

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    1. I have a stash of seeds that will still be viable ;-)

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  2. How lucky the two of you are! I love the willow, it's just stunning. I love using nature to enhance nature too.

    I've only done lino cutting twice, once in high school and once in college, it was great fun!!! I often wonder why I didn't go into the arts . . .

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    1. I think you should give it another try :-)

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  3. What brilliant plant supports! and such a good idea to swop skills, with great results.

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    1. We both enjoyed both days - it's great to work with someone else really passionate about what they do.

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  4. What a great opportunity for you both. Your plant supports are beautiful and now you have the skills you can take it your own way. Teaching is such a learning experience!

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    1. It was interesting, there are things you just do without thinking that need explaining.

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  5. What a great idea, I'm all for bartering! Wether that is skill sharing or craft swapping! Your obelisk is great, very impressive! Ada :)

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    1. Yes. I now need a field full of willow!

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  6. What a great way of sharing some skills, the willow looks great as do the prints. Personally, I find that it can get a bit isolated doing creative things on your own so this is certainly of great interest.

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    1. I like working by myself but it was lovely to work with Debbie - we talked about lots of creative ideas.

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  7. Woo-hoo! Withy wigwams.And good for you, honing and refining your teacher skills.

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    1. Debbie is an experienced workshop teacher - I learned a lot.

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  8. Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me! Love the results...

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    1. We both enjoyed each other's skill - and found a lot of similarities in the processes.

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  9. Gosh Celia, it definitely seems as if you and Debbie had a fabulous time trading lessons in your individual skills. How wonderful to engage your creative impulses in new ways.

    The results look so good. I expect that you two will continue on with your traded techniques.

    xo

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    1. We both work with techniques have endless possibilities - and interesting to find lots of similarities too. It was refreshing for both of us to work in a different medium.

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  10. One of most favourite things: skill swapping!

    Your plant supports look wonderful. My fingers are crossed that I may soon have some in my garden!

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    1. Debbie runs workshops in lots of different willow weaving techniques - look at the photos on www.salixarts.co.uk

      I fancy trying to make a gathering basket.

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  11. That willow is a fabulous colour Celia and the print Debbie has produced is just as colourful. What a civilised thing to do. I think sharing a skill like this is the ultimate compliment to someone else. Good on you both.

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    1. Thanks Lesley,
      I like the idea of growing the materials you use to create useful things, very satisfying!
      We had two very civilized days... which were great therapy.

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  12. Your willow work looks great! It will be lovely in the garden. Debbie's linocut is amazing for a first go. Two very talented ladies and a great idea, this skill swapping idea is going to catch on!

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    1. Thank you! Yes I love Debbie's linocut, the sketch it was based on was beautiful.

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  13. What a brilliant example of how blogging can bring like-minded people together.

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    1. In fact Debbie neither has a blog or reads mine... she was a regular customer at a gallery that sold my work but has now closed - so she googled my name.

      But, yes blogging does bring like minded people together and would be a great way to start a skill-swap.

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  14. Oh I'm sure it must have been Debbie (I've a shocking memory for names) who ran a willow weaving course in our village hall last year. We thoroughly enjoyed it and between D and I made 3 lovely supports similar to yours. I'd love another lesson one day - a basket next time I think.

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    1. Maybe? But there are a few willow weavers and basket makers around Cambridge/The Fens - a good area for growing the materials needed and following centuries of tradition.
      Yes I fancy making one of the square 'gathering baskets' next - I think I now know enough to work out how it's done.

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  15. What fun to learn a new skill, lovely work!

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  16. Fabulous, I love skill swaps! The willow garden structures you made look absolutely beautiful. Look forward to seeing pictures of them being used in the future :)

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  17. wow, that's some serious skill sharing. Just beautiful, I love them both!

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