Skip to content

Willow Basketry

  • 8 Weeks | Leisure Learning
  • Suffolk Rural
  • Leisure Learning | Leisure

Course overview

8 monthly full-day sessions with tutor Jo Hammond

At Suffolk Rural College, with support from the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers.

In a fast-changing world, many of us want to reduce our reliance on plastics, have the satisfaction of making things for ourselves, and work with natural, unprocessed materials that bring us closer to nature.

Learning to make willow baskets fulfils all of these desires, and can be a springboard to a new career in craft, or simply a lifetime of pleasure…

This is a rare opportunity to learn heritage craft in in greater depth than most leisure courses can offer, working through the fascinating range of skills and techniques that go into beautiful and functional willow baskets.

Aim of Course

To introduce a small group of students to willow basketry, building their skills over eight months.

At completion of the course, participants should have become competent with all the main techniques of round willow basketmaking, aiming for work of a saleable standard. They will have sufficient skill and knowledge to be able to move forward as makers, or to continue enjoying basketry as a hobby.


Important – Students will need to be in reasonably good health, and have a firm grip to be able to cope with the physical demands of basketry. In between taught sessions, students must undertake several hours of ‘homework’ in order to fully learn new skills and progress to the next stage.

During each taught session students will be introduced to skills and techniques through demonstration and practice. Each new practical skill is to be repeated and learned fully during the weeks between sessions. Group learning will also take place through discussion, and students will be given suggestions for homework involving research and basketry design, to build their understanding of the context and application of practical skills.

An allowance for materials has been included; one traditional bundle of willow (or its equivalent) will be brought by the tutor ready prepared for each session, and any left over divided between students for practice at home. Students will need to purchase some basketry willow for themselves. After the first session, students must bring their own tools, the minimum being:


Students will be advised on what might be needed for storage and soaking of willow, and some books recommended. Some written handouts by the tutor will be available, but students are expected to take notes and make drawings for themselves during taught sessions. The tutor will bring books for reference and any baskets needed as examples.

Course Programme:


Discussion: Some history and context of basketmaking. Introduction to willow as a material; how it grows, grading, preparation.

Practical work: Making a round base, trimming your work.

Homework: Soaking willow, making round bases. Start album/ learning record.


Discussion: Accuracy of design making.

Practical work: Grading willow, selecting stakes and weavers. Stake up a base and continue- perform waling and English rand.

Homework: Repeat and learn new techniques. Bring a basket ready for its border and a spare base (about 20cm) for the next session.


Discussion: Working on a larger basket; how this affects the choices for design and materials.

Practical work: On a shopper, handling larger materials and more stakes. Make a wrapped bow handle. New skills in slyping.

Homework: Repeat project and learn new techniques. Soak handle bows. Bring bases ready for the next session.


Discussion: Design and techniques for baskets with curved sides.

Practical work: Shaping techniques, French randing weave – single and double, rod borders.

Homework: Practice all new techniques, especially borders. Make a border ‘dummy’. Bring two baskets ready for their borders for the next session.


Discussion and group work: more learning on rod borders.

Practical work: Making larger and wider bases, bases with an odd number of stakes. Project to make a wide basket or tray.

Homework: Make wide bases and odd-number bases. Bring one suitable for a log basket for the next session.


Discussion: Large baskets, materials and techniques needed, design choices.

Practical work: Make a log basket, slewing weave and hand holds.

Homework: Practice new techniques. Bring a half made basket and a finished one suitable to take handles for the next session.


Discussion: Uses of packing and twisted handles.

Practical work: Add packing and twisted rod handles to a basket project.

Homework: Practice packing and twisted rod handles.


Discussion: Review learning and identify areas for repeat demos and troubleshooting. Discuss how to progress with basketmaking.

Practical work: Work through with tutor to address and techniques or design issues as needed.

Timings: 10:00 – 16:00

Course cost: £360

Course dates: 24th Sept, 15th Oct, 19th Nov, 10th Dec 2022, 14th Jan, 11th Feb, 18th March & 8th April 2023

Take the next step

If this is the right course for you click Apply!
If you want to see what else is on offer in this area feel free to view the other courses.

Performing arts learners taking part in a show