Basketry With Hilary Burns

Originally trained in textiles as a fabric weaver, Hilary has been making, teaching and writing about basketry for over thirty years. She grows her own materials, a collection of coloured bark willows, in Devon as well as incorporating other natural materials into her work. Her baskets are contemporary in style and she uses a mix of techniques acquired from her travels and research into the craft. As well as using basketry in a functional way she is interested in how the skills may be transferred to other craft disciplines.

Hilary makes both functional baskets and sculptural pieces and uses only natural materials, some of which she grows herself. These include hedgerow materials, hazel, oak and ash, which are all sustainable and renewable materials. Hilary enjoys the slowness involved in basketry, taking place over the stages of growing materials, cutting, grading, drying, soaking, and weaving. In this modern world, we often place great emphasis on getting things done quickly and easily. However, by using traditional methods, Hilary finds herself following the seasons and working with natural cycles. She is interested in willow and wood techniques from Europe and finds the history of basket-weaving inspiring. 

That is not to say that Hilary's baskets only replicate traditional forms - she has her own aesthetic and injects personality into her baskets. However, her passion for promoting traditional techniques has led her to co-found and direct Basketry and Beyond, a voluntary organisation promoting the use of natural materials and sustainable construction in basket-weaving.

On the 20th October this year, Hilary will be giving a workshop in basket-weaving at the Art Workers' Guild in London. Taking a simple structure, Hilary will show participants how to weave a frame basket, exploring the natural colours of different varieties of willow. Having learnt the basics of the technique, participants will also learn about variations of form and complexity of weave. This type of basket making was, in the past, commonly practised by travelling people and woodsmen with access to wild or hedgerow materials. Seemingly simple, it is an exercise in judgement and balance.

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  • Janet Whan on

    I would love to participate in an online workshop. It’s not practical for me to travel to London from Canada to do this workshop but I am so interested!

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