Willow Weaving at LINLEY with Sarah Le Breton

Posted on 19 June 2016

I can honestly say that I had never imagined attending a willow weaving workshop. It is something that I have seen and admired whilst visiting gardens and exhibitions but had never thought about the time and effort that actually goes into creating these fascinating designs. When I was given the opportunity to take part in the workshop at LINLEY, I was very intrigued to find out how everything worked. 

Martyn White group photo with willow weaving workshop participants at LINLEY London

During the Chelsea Flower Show, LINLEY put on a fantastic display of wild flowers, willow baskets and sculptures that twisted and twined around the facade of the store and windows. These crowd stopping designs were created by Sarah Le Breton, an artist and tutor with an incredible understanding of the willow craft. Creating everything from baskets to full blown visual displays, there really isn't anything that Sarah cannot produce from this material. 

Willow weaving set up at LINLEY LondonLINLEY willow weaving workshop

 

Our aim by the end of the workshop was to create a rooster and a hen with nothing but English willow and a small metal frame for support. A task that some of us did not think we would be able to accomplish. We were introduced to the different types of willow and how each one had a slightly different look and feel, making the different types of willow suitable for particular styles, finishes, strengths and colours. 

Willow circles to create a sculpturewillow weaving sculptures at LINLEY London

 

One thing that I found very surprising was the lack of tools that needed to be used. This workshop was very much about using your hands, bending the willow and weaving it into forms without the need of any tools. The more willow you weaved, the more the willow supported each other, creating a strong and robust sculpture that did not need ties or support as I would have imagined. The short video above sees us mount the body of the rooster onto a small metal frame so that we can create the feet around them. 

Willow hen and rooster sculptureswillow sculpting workshop LondonLondon craft workshop LINLEY

Once the body of the hen and rooster was completed, it was time to move onto the neck and tail which is created by passing the willow through the body of the bird and shaping each side. The most difficult part of the process for me was creating the head. The shape and direction of the body greatly influences the position and form of the head which was quite hard to perfect. Help was on hand however and Sarah was able to give us a little direction and tips to finishing the birds just in time for celebratory drinks. 

Martyn White of Martyn White DesignsWillow weaving team at LINLEY LondonWillow Hen and rooster sculpture workshop

 Check out the video below to see an example of the workshop and the work that we created. 

 

The workshop was such a brilliant experience and not only did I discover a hidden talent, I got to meet and spend time with an amazing group of people. If you are looking to unearth a hidden talent and would like to give willow weaving a go, check out Sarah Le Brenton's website for further details. I would also like to thank the team at LINLEY for the invitation and letting me try out something new that I would have never thought about trying before. 





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3 comments

  • Martyn White: June 23, 2016

    Sarah it was such a pleasure to attend! You had so much energy and it was infectious! I am very tempted to move out of the city and become a basket maker!!

  • Loretta Whetlor: June 21, 2016

    Sarah is an amazing lady. Taught me how to do willow sculpture which I never knew about and thought it was far too difficult. She just takes you along on a wave of enthusiasm and her energy is boundless. I hav made four animals now and am going to do more. Such a fabulous day in wonderful surroundings in Somerset on The Levels

  • Sarah Le Breton: June 21, 2016

    Hi Martyn,

    Thank you for such an amazing review and brilliant coverage of our willow weaving workshop. It was an absolute delight and a pleasure to teach you and create willow sculptures with such lovely people. PS. (and I’m not just saying this…) You’ve a real natural talent, so if you ever fancy becoming a basket maker…! Sarah Xx

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