Monday, August 17, 2009

Oxford Summer School

Oxford Summer School is an annual art event featuring short courses in art, craft and music. This year I attended the Plaited baskets with willow bark and New Zealand Flax course taught by Joanna Gilmour
Initially we worked with the wonderfully fragrant willow bark that Jo had prepared for us in the spring when her crop of willow was ready to harvest. Mastering the basic plaiting techniques and a selection of finishing methods was my prime concern with any product being a bonus so I was really please with the small container pictured above.
Although I enjoyed working with the willow bark it is not a material that I have easy access to so I concentrated on working with the New Zealand Flax which I can crop easily from my garden.
The 'pin-wheel' knot was one of the first things that I mastered with this material, going on to produce this fun vessels that everyone calls my pineapple.
Jo had a display of interesting pieces that she had made and I was fascinated by the use of pin-wheel knots to form pentagonal voids (rather than their natural squares). The pentagons meant that the work would not lie flat and constantly twisted and buckled into interesting forms which produced wonderful shadows. My, still rather green, version is shown left.
Some of Jo's very lacy, sculptural pieces can be seen on the Projects section of her website at

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