Recently I spent what can only be described as a 'thoroughly enjoyable day' learning willow sculpture at a Willow Sculpture for the Garden workshop at local Roots, Shoots & Leaves. The super talented Judith Needham (who's willow fairy tale dens and playhouses you need to see!) taught our group the skills needed to make something pretty darn cool for our gardens. Some of the group already had and idea of what we wanted to make whilst other's weren't so sure, luckily Judith had brought along some examples to inspire!
The workshop area at Roots, Shoot & Leaves is light and spacious and being a sunny Summer's day we opened the main doors up and worked both inside and out. As I chose to make a large leaf shape I worked outside, so calming to work next to the lovely potager garden. Françoise was the attentive host, as always, helping print off images of chickens and find acorns to help the group. Judith started us off by showing us how to make the willow more pliable to work with and how to make a basic hoop, which was the cornerstone to most of our designs.
I was impressed at just how well Judith managed to split herself between our group of seven, helping start of each of us in turn with our different designs. Between the group we planned to make a New forest pony head, a bishops chess piece, an acorn, two chickens, a peacock and a leaf.
I chose to make a leaf, originally intending it to stand in the ground and arch over, giving shade for the children. As I made it though I realized how heavy the leaf section was becoming. Luckily Judith was to hand to suggest other ways to display the large leaf, attached to a wall for a climbing plant to trail up for example. I became totally immersed with 'making' and put my camera down - I really enjoyed the whole process!
As with most of the workshops at Roots, Shoots & Leaves, Françoise cooked a delicious home grown seasonal two course lunch. It was so tasty, here's what we feasted on:
Roast potato salad with a cashew nut dressing and chives and parsley
Pea, mozzarella tart (a Delicious magazine recipe that you can find here)
Beetroot curly wurlies with cider vinegar
Barley salad with herb and vegetable pesto (another Delicious magazine recipe)
Rhubarb and angelica tart with lemon balm ice-cream.
After lunch we returned, happily sated by the delicious food, to our sculptures which we all beginning to take shape. I finished my large leaf with some time to spare so Judith let me lose turning some willow (see below), which I really loved. It all began with a square board with cable hooks set in certain positions. From there 5 pieces of willow were clipped under and then folded over in turn until the mini-dome was complete. It didn't take long and was super easy and is something that I really want to try with my children,Kitty and Ozzy, as it's a lovely beginners exercise - as I sit here typing this I can see my little weaving sitting in pride of place next to the monitor! You can also see below just how this turned shape can be incorporated into a flower for the garden.
And here's the gang at the end of the day - all proudly showing off our creations!