Jonathon Carrie – Basket Maker
I grew up on a farm in South Norfolk. I remember the old men sitting in the barn on rainy days repairing farm baskets using stuff they had cut from the hedgerows. I remember the multitude of uses they found for hazel and larch and birch in their gardens and houses and around the farm; repairing handles on hoes, or making pea sticks or cutting sticks to herd cattle. As they retired and passed away so did their skills.
I use hedgerow material as much as I can. Harvesting the material is challenging. I can only 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 cut from wild sources and willow that I buy from willow producers in Norfolk.
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.