Woodland Crafts: Making a Basket
KE061, a Kent Extra course all about weaving your own basket out of wood was held in three lots of three hour sessions during May and June 2015 by Dr. Ian Bride. Students worked together to make a simple basket whilst understanding the materials. We interviewed some of the students during these days to see what they thought!
Meet the students
Heidi – English Language and Linguistics, PhD
Heidi took this Kent Extra course right in the middle of all her marking. She had lots to do and thought that the course would be a really good thing to do to relax and take some time out. Having been married to a farmer, Heidi has made all sorts of things like clothes, jams and other types of food. She likes to do anything similar to this to get her away from a screen. To her, woodwork is very relaxing and a good thing to do because you get to spend time outside of the office, or library, and be outside surrounded by woodland.
Marlene – Curating, Masters
Marlene thought that it was nice to get out of the classroom and be in the woods. Finding this type of activity really fun, she took part in both the stone carving and bench making Kent Extra courses this year. She thinks there are definitely benefits to taking this course as, to her, university is not just about the credits; it’s good to do something creative which is manual and not academic. It’s also a great chance to relax!
Danielle – Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation, Masters
Danielle chose the course because it was something different to do. Having come to the end of studying, this was the last opportunity to do something like this at the university. She had never had an experience like this, but she liked that it gets you out into the fresh air, and that she got to learn a new skill.
Kate – History and Archeology, 4th year
Kate likes being outside, experiencing nature, and thinks it’s a nice change from the library. In modern times, we buy everything from shops, so it is interesting to get an idea of how people in the past made things. In scouts, she has built all sorts of crafts before, including shelters and benches. She liked the idea of the course because it’s a change from what everyone usually does, and it is good to have different skills.
Sheena – Business, Masters
Sheena wanted to try something new. The course took place on the day after her exams so it was something to look forward to. She had never done anything similar, but thought it was a good experience and a fun thing to do (as long as the weather is good)!
Ivy – Architecture, 2nd Year
Ivy wanted to do something with her sister (Sheena). She did something similar to what the course offers in her architecture course, so thought that basket making would be fun and a good chance to de-stress. She had does model making on her course, and has made lots of sculptural things from sourced materials. To her, the course not only offers you the chance to learn how to make a basket, but it makes good use of the woods on campus.
Meet the teacher
Dr Ian Bride – Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Management
Dr. Ian Bride wanted the students who took this course to be confident in using tools, understand the nature of wood, and express themselves whilst ‘learning by doing’. People who take his course can learn new skills and techniques, and get to understand the materials they are using.
The experience is nice for people who are outside a creative arts setting. They get to have the ‘I did that’ moment. Dr. Bride said that students who have done similar things in the past have said that it’s nice to leave a legacy. The benches below were made by a group of students in 2010, and are still here today, just behind Becket Court!
As for plans for future projects like this, there is a new development on campus called Bill Hook Nook, which you can find just behind the business school area. In the future, Dr. Bride would like to make charcoal and fences with students in similar types of courses. He said that the university campus is great, and has loads of opportunities that just wouldn’t be available in other places.
How to make a basket
Want to make one yourself? Here is a quick and easy guide for how the baskets were made on the day!
Collect 9, long, medium-thickness pieces of wood. Hazel and Willow are good types to use.
Cut the leaves off the wood. Push these sticks vertically into the ground so that they make a circle. You can use a circular object to place your sticks around to get a more precise shape (some students used a kettle!). Next, tie the top of all the sticks together with a wire.
Next collect the stick to weave the basket. Holly is a good type of wood to use here because it is bendy.
Weave this wood through the sticks you have planted in the ground. Weave around the inside and outside, gradually building up your basket. Remember to push the weaved wood down as you go along to make the sticks more compact.
Undo the wire around the top of your 9 big sticks, then cut off the top bits so that they are all the same size.
Use pliers to open the fibers of the larger sticks so that you can bend them over the top of what you have weaved. Once bent, use a wire to stick the other side to the opposite end of the basket.
Carefully lift you basket from beneath and flip it around.
Drill a hole through each stick that was in the ground and use a wire to secure these pieces.
And from here, you need to line the bottom of the basket!
Photographed by Leanne Hearnden