Willow Basketry with Annemarie O'Sullivan

15-22 July, Chateau Dumas, Course and board from €1,935

Hosted by Annemarie O'Sullivan

The weaving and binding techniques that basket maker Annemarie O’Sullivan uses have been used for hundreds of years to create small-scale domestic objects through to larger-scale woven forms. This connection with nature draws her to site specific, beautifully crafted works which are steeped in history and landscape.

Over the duration of the week you will learn the fundamentals of round willow basketry and take away with you your very own beautiful hand-woven round basket (or two).

Annemarie's baskets and woven objects are a response to the materials she gathers by hand from the land. She grows around twenty different types of willow and often combines these with coppiced wood. Her work draws on the sturdiness of agricultural baskets, the curves of the landscape and a deep respect for ancient crafts. She is inspired by simple connections with basket makers from the past and is passionate about seeing the making process through from source to finished piece. Basketmaking is an ancient tradition with its own pace and rhythm. You’ll begin by creating a domed round base. Next you’ll stake up the sides of the basket. Annemarie will teach you the techniques of French and English randing with a finer willow to weave the sides of your basket. A strong and beautiful border completes the basket.

Annemarie will talk through the process of planting the willow cuttings through cutting by hand and harvesting. She will explain the different processes including boiling to get the buff colour and striping the bark to get white willow. You will be shown how to prepare the willow before working with it. Soaking and mellowing the willow makes it supple and malleable to weave with.

When your willow is prepared, you will start by making a round slightly domed base. The base dictates the eventual size of the basket and the weight of willow used dictates the strength. The doming or creates tension that will take the weight of the contents of the basket.You will then stake up the sides of the base to make the upright structure onto which you will weave. Annemarie will teach you the techniques of French and English randing with a finer willow to weave the sides of your basket. You’ll learn how to complete your basket with a strong and beautiful border.

During the week you will make one to two handled baskets. You can take the course at your own pace and there will be plenty of time to enjoy the tradition of sitting together and weaving. 

This course is suitable for those who are new to willow basket making, or those who have taken a few classes but would like to invest in learning this skill. 

We take a break from the course mid-week to enjoy a day of dyeing with woad, the original blue dye from the woad plant grown in the Toulouse area since medieval times. You can bring things to dye from home, pick items up at local markets or buy natural fabric from Chateau Dumas. 

During the week there is a visit to the nearby atmospheric Sunday morning food and craft market in St Antonin-Noble-Val, the medieval town where the films Charlotte Gray and The Hundred Foot Journey were filmed.

Chateau Dumas, Chateau d'Auty, Nr Toulouse, 82220 Auty

Email enquiries@chateaudumas.net for places.