I’ve always loved willow sculpture. The willow is a beautiful, natural material, pliable to mould into wonderful shapes. I’ve seen some excellent willow lanterns at festivals and parades; giant green man puppets, and flocks of birds lighting up streets. I was excited to create my own.
We had one of those fortuitous moments which happen a lot at arts hubs like ours. I had just been prowling the internet to look for a local source of willow, when Dianna Simcock from Growing with Gilamont walked in to the Hub.
Dianna helps run a community garden near North Berwick. They had just been cutting their willow down from this year’s harvest. Her husband makes excellent willow baskets (we hope to be selling some soon!). Dianna was very kind and offered willow for our workshop. I collected it the day before the workshop on 20th November. My partner and I took a friend’s dog for a walk to find Dianna and the Victorian walled garden. She’d soaked the willow in troughs the day before and it was still damp; we tied the 10ft long willow poles in binbags to help retain the moisture before taking it home.
The day of the workshop, our very lovely volunteer Marnie and I got to know the willow well as we make the Christmas window display. The technique we adopted most to make our Three Wise Men was more like ‘drawing with willow’. We attached different shapes with masking tape to build up an image. We then covered these in brightly coloured tissue paper, layering up stars and crowns to make our men look kingly.
During the workshop, participants also had a go at willow weaving, threading the willow in and out of its self to build 3d shapes.
Thank you to Growing with Gilamont for so generously donating their willow. It was lovely to meet a new person and a new community organisation in East Lothian and hearing about their initiatives and their growing philosophies. I hope we have more interactions with them.
Our Christmas window display is now up, ready for the Haddington business partnership Christmas window display competition! I enjoyed working with willow a lot, and can see myself using it again!