Wonderful Willow

Some of you who may have been following my blogs for a while may remember my WOW! Club (Water Orton Wildlife Club) winning The Woodland Trust ‘Artventure’ competition earlier in the year. Our prize was to work with an artist. I was lucky enough to meet Tom Hare, a willow artist, whilst at Gardeners’ World Live and I asked if we could have Tom come to our school and work with us, as he is local.  This week, we were lucky enough to have Tom visit and my WOW! Club past, present… and future were able to join him in willow weaving.

I have never worked with willow, yet it is something that has always interested me and when I saw some of the amazing sculptures that Tom has built in the past, I was very keen to have a go and see what my KreATivE side could conjure up! Take a look at Tom’s Website at www.tomhare.net to get an idea of what is possible… and you can see why I was so inspired!

Tom started us all on some simple techniques, learning how to manipulate the willow withies. These had been soaked to ensure they were soft and pliable and it is a surprisingly easy material to work with, once you get the ‘feel’ for it. We started by making some simple willow leaves, built on a willow withy that had been bent in the middle. We then wove the willow in and out to create a leaf shape.

Tom and I had already discussed some ideas, but when we got together, our artistic and creative minds soon went into overtime! I had wanted to create something functional and lasting in school so we decided to see if we could use the willow to make a feeding station for our feathered friends. Tom had suggested making willow spheres, possibly for nesting, but I felt these would be better suited to feeding, so we soon had the kids weaving willow spheres, based around two woven rings. The kids came up with ideas of creating windows for the birds to fly through and some of us attempted to weave perches as well…. it was amazing and we were delighted with what we produced!

In the afternoon, another group of children joined us and we wove  snail shapes to initially build up our skills, then worked on weaving some deeper leaf shapes that we thought we could put food on. The children worked really well and, whereas a couple struggled and needed some support, some of them were absolutely flying and creating some amazing pieces.