Monday, 29 September 2014

Willow Workshop

On Saturday I went to a 'Willow Workshop', which was running as part of Hurst Festival. I booked a ticket for this as I'd not worked with willow before, and was curious about it!

As it turned out, the workshop was for creating a lantern from willow and wet strength tissue paper. This wasn't quite what I expected as the festival website had shown a picture of willow weaving on the event page. It seemed a number of others who attended had expected the same thing, so we were certainly surprised when it turned out we were making lanterns!
But since I was there and had paid my money, I decided to roll with it and ended up having fun!

The workshop was run by artist Tina Allonby, who encouraged us to experiment with our designs and proved to have a wealth of knowledge and a very hands-on approach. There were no long and boring lectures about working with willow, just a brief introduction and a handout--enough to get us all started! I liked this, as I was itching to get my hands on some willow and start making something!

Starting with a base and then moving on to the frame - all from willow - our group began creating all kinds of shapes and forms! Tina was always on hand to offer advice and suggestions, not to mention a crucial second pair of hands for some fiddly bits!

Tea and cake were provided which was just brilliant; what better than working away on a creative project whilst munching homemade cake and swigging tea?

After lunch, we moved on to covering our frameworks with tissue paper. To do this we used wet strength tissue, a very strong form of tissue paper! Each piece, cut to size, had to be smothered with a mixture of equal parts PVA and water before being attached to the lantern frame.
This was probably the most fiddly, and definitely the messiest, part of the day!

Following another tea break, our group put our lanterns together outside, where they drew the attention of some passers by! It's interesting to see how vastly different some of the designs were; most were standing lanterns but as shown in the picture above, a couple of people made some rather awesome hanging lanterns too. Compared to others, I think mine ended up looking a bit plain! Maybe I should have made a square one instead. I think I just wanted a little beehive.

Although the tissue paper was white it dries to a semi-transparent state. I forgot to take a picture during daylight, so here is a night-time one taken with flash--you can see how the paper dries!

Finally, here is my lantern lit up. There's a little dish inside for a tea light, but this time I just stuck a push-button light inside.

Overall it was a great day! Everyone had a laugh and there was a good atmosphere. It was good to do something creative and to try something new, and with this I can cross another goal off The List:
081. Try a new craft or creative pursuit
Yay! Not sure if I'll make another lantern using this method, simply because I'm not even sure where I'm going to put this one! But it was an informative day and I would like to experiment more with willow in future.

I know I've been a bit lax in updating here for the past week! I've been a little busy and a lot tired! But thereare more updates to come, and over the next few days I'll post about the John Vernon Lord exhibition at the Holy Trinity Church in Hurstpierpoint (another part of Hurst Festival), Bentley Woodfair, and of course I'll be posting more from Folk Tales of the Sea People.

1 comment:

  1. This looks great! I bet not many people have willow crafting skills anymore, which makes this even more impressive. Good job :D