SKILL-SWAP round one – Weaving 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 two – Cutting 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.