Garden club members were especially attentive to a slide show prepared by Heather Sanft who ably discussed the complexities of creating baskets at our September 14th club meeting. She had trained in England as well as France to learn how willows grow and how they are harvested. Did you know that France has a National Basketry School? It can take seven years to apprentice. Instructors are diligent and take much pride in the process.
Willow fences captured our attention as she showed how to place them diagonally in the soil and secure them with ties. Seeing the leaves grow out from the stocks as the cuttings took root showed the marvel of the whole process. When she moved on to making baskets, we discovered that willow comes in many colors—red, white, brown, green. To make a basket, you start with the foundation–the bottom–and after conquering that skill, you can complete the sides and handle.
From her home base at the Lunenburg County Winery in Newburne (www.canada-wine.com), she now makes willow backpacks, drying racks and even historical reproductions of bark willow lobster traps. The movie industry has made good use of her talents as well. She certainly inspired us to consider new horizons of creativity.