Jenny has been a professional basket maker and willow grower for over 30 years. She plants, grows and harvests her own willow beds in Herefordshire.
After starting her training at Hereford College of Arts, she completed a degree in Woven Textiles at West Surrey College of Art & Design. In 1985 she went on to do a one year apprenticeship with the very accomplished basket maker and willow grower, David Drew, sponsored by the Crafts Council. This was the stepping stone to her career as a prominent basket maker.
The process of basket making has changed very little with industrialisation. A considerable amount of training and repetition of process go to form the expert basket maker. The ultimate perfection of shape and the beauty of texture rely on thoroughly perceived ideas in the basket makers mind and on the skill to impress these on the natural material.
Jenny has been growing Willow in Herefordshire for more than three decades. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the county, Jenny’s Willow Beds are harvested through January to March each year and replanted. In strict lines spaced 2ft apart, willow saplings grow 9” apart. This regimented spacing ensures the young willow grows straight and true and doesn’t bush out as it would if planted in the middle of a garden. There are thousands of varieties of willow but only a few hundred are useful for basket making.
Jenny explains “If you want a fine and elegant basket, you need a fine and elegant willow because the characteristic of the material transfers into a piece. That’s why the link is so important between making and growing.”
Jenny must grow and harvest all the willow she needs for the year by March. It is then sorted into bundles, graded by length and left to dry naturally.
Woodee Log Baskets
When we wanted to add contemporary log baskets to The Woodee Range, we approached Jenny. Her innovative designs, traditional skills and Herefordshire grown willow were a natural fit with our Woodee values. We believe in ‘Collaboration in Craftsmanship’ and our unique range of Log Baskets is a marriage of Jenny’s willow on our blacksmith’s hand-forged frames. The result is stylish and practical, and as you would expect from Woodee – handcrafted to last.