Jonathon Carrie – Basket Maker
I grew up on a farm in South Norfolk and remember the old men sitting in the barn on rainy days repairing farm baskets using stuff they had cut from the hedgerows. As these old men retired and passed away so did many of their skills and a whole way of rural life.
I spent a number of years visiting and learning from basket maker Adrian Charlton before receiving a bursary from the Worshipful Company of Basket Makers that allowed me to spend time over a year with another basket maker: Peter Dibble.
I use a variety of hedgerow material and handcut wild willow as much as I can. Harvesting the material is challenging. These materials cut in the winter months from late November to late February when the leaves have fallen and the sap has retreated. Finding suitable sites is tricky too; farmers and landowners cut their hedges with machines keeping them neat and tidy but destroying the young growth that is ideal for my baskets. So I collect as much as I can and weather it at home and use it through the year with willow that I grow myself cut and willow that I buy from English willow producers.
Using hedgerow material is challenging. Not least because the material grows wild and in all manner of shapes, sizes and thicknesses. This does help to produce unique baskets; each basket seems to form its own shape and character and, as a buyer, you know your basket is special.
Care for your basket
Your basket could last a lifetime depending on how much you use it. The colours will mellow and change but can be refreshed from time to time. Simply leave your basket outside in a rain shower for 20 minutes to revive those winter colours.
It is important to remember that each basket I make will be unique. The materials that I have available, the shape and colour, the textures and layers will vary. You know that your basket will be unique to you.