Level of experience: Some basic knowledge is good, however if you
haven’t used willow before that is fine. Maybe choose a slightly easier
animal such as an owl or a standing fox.
This is the most amazing opportunity to take part in a woodland willow
weaving experience like no other!!
I shall be running a 2 day retreat in the beautiful ‘Shining Cliff
Woods’ in Derbyshire. We will be making woodland creatures out of willow
and relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet of the surrounding woodlands.
I can’t begin to describe how stunning the wood is, especially in the
spring. This will bring such inspiration to what we make and take the
experience of willow weaving to another level.
Choose from a fox, owl, hare, rabbit or badger. All the soaked willow
will be provided. I shall guide you through all the stages of how to make
your sculpture. We will start by drawing inspiration from pictures and
images of the creatures. Then I will show you how to create the frame, all
from willow. It will be a solid structure that we can then random weave
into. On the Sunday the filling and shaping will continue and then you will
add features and character until you are happy with it.
I do hope we will be actually able to weave outside and sit among the
trees. If it happens to be heavy rain, we shall retreat into the cosy
woodland classroom, or under gazebos.
Throughout the weekend we will be fed by Vegan Revelation, who will be
providing us with delicious, wholesome vegan meals. Leise and her team cook
the most amazing food. I can vouch for how tasty the food is as I am a
regular customer. You will receive lunch and an evening meal on Saturday.
On Sunday breakfast, lunch and afternoon cake.
In the evening you could go for a walk and explore the area or just sit
around the fire and enjoy the stillness and hopefully the odd owl hoot.
This is an experience not to be missed if you like nature, art and good
Shining Cliff Woods youth hostel, Near Ambergate, Derbyshire.
There are 5 rooms, 2 per room sharing, or pay extra for a room on your
own, bunk beds. There are x2 bunkbeds per room, so you can choose from top
Basic but cosy hostel accommodation. A community area for eating and
socialising. 3 bathrooms with toilet and shower in each.
For an extra cost of £10 you could stay on Friday night too, but you
would need to provide you own food for that night. There is a cooker and
equipment in the hostel.
I have limited the places to 10. So it will be first come first served,
with a reserve list.
To book please send me an email or call me. This way I can keep track of
who is coming and your individual needs and requirements. I will take
payment over the phone.
It is about a 10 minute walk from the car park to the hostel, down a
track. So luggage and equipment needs to be taken in a wheel barrow to the
site. There will be people who can help you get it all there, so if this
aspect concerns you then please do not worry. If you do have any
accessibility issues please give me a call to chat about it before booking.
To look at the accommodation please visit the hostel website.
New, New studio and Spring!!
Another New studio I hear you say!
Well yes, I have finally settled at a place that ticks all the boxes.
Earlier this year I moved into a converted cow shed with adjoining storage
space. I was very sad to leave my friends at Fleet Arts but unfortunately
it wasn't quite large enough to meet my needs. I am however intending to
still run workshops there. So they haven't seen the last of me!
My new place is on a farm near Kirk Langley. It feels great to have my
own space and also somewhere to store my willow. The landlord and farmer is
also growing some willow for me, so I hope to have my own harvest in a year
or two. It is in a beautiful area with lots of green fields, wildlife and
birds. I feel blessed to be here.
Unfortunately it hasn't all been plane sailing. With the Covid-19
situation and lockdown I have been unable to go in as much as I would like.
Obviously it has taken its toll on so many people and my business has been
no different. I can only be grateful that it is only my work that has been
effected and not my health or my family.
I have found it very difficult be stay motivated and creative if I am
honest. My main concern was for my family and friends and still is. However
I am starting to find my mojo again and hope I can get back into some kind
of flow. I am luck enough to have some commissioned work and I am able to
concentrate on that. I have lost lots of work this year, as many artists
have. The online option, was not really an option for me, as my materials
are not very accessible by the average person. Many workshops have been
postponed or moved till next year but it has left me with a massive
financial gap. For those folk who have paid and booked onto a workshop that
I have organised, (they have been informed) I will run them when I can or
give you the option to do another workshop of the same value. I haven't
forgotten about you.
I hope this break will be an opportunity for creative ideas to flourish.
The arts industry will boom again soon and we will have lots of ideas and
stories to draw on for inspiration.
So my friends, stay safe and well and I send love and blessings to all
of you at a difficult time.
Goodbye 2019 and bring it on 2020
With just over a week to 2020 I thought it was a good time to write my
blog. Its been a very busy and productive year and I just wanted to share
some of my achievements for 2019.
I finally finished the very large badgers at Derby Royal Hospital. It
was a lengthy project and took up the first part of the year. There has
been a great response from everyone that has seen them and it makes me very
proud to bring some joy to those who visit the hospital.
On a personal level I am very proud of these and I am eager to work on
some more large commissions. So if you have one in mind please get in
There have been other projects there as well. Three leaping hares became
part of the garden at the ICU area. They are part of a great space that
includes a woodland mural by the amazing illustrator Emma Bailey and Ola
Wilson of Fleet Arts.
Also my first collaboration, with fellow willow worker Alistair Hayhurst
of Underwood Crafts, was to make two decorative fences to screen off areas
of the garden and to compliment the artwork. It was great to work along
side him. I learnt more about the structural aspect of willow, Oh and that
being small has its downsides to fence making!!
My trusted friend Miles Halpin, who is my metal fabricator, has been
such a great help for a number of projects this year. I wanted to mention
him, as without him I would have to learn how to weld. So I thank him for
the great job he does and all the laughs we have whilst working it all
I have run many workshops this year. Some working for other
organisations such as Zantium Studios and Greenwood days. At festivals and
community events and others that I have organised myself. There have been a
growing number of people wanting to experience willow weaving and some very
talented people have taken part. I wish them well on their willow journey
and I hope to see some people back next year. Check out my new dates for
Much of my year seems to be taken up by promotion and marketing. It is a
very necessary side to running a business, but also frustrating as it is
just me. I am eager in 2020 to try and make more and produce more
On that note I have several projects that are under my belt for early
2020 and some more pending. I look forward to sharing them with you in the
Spring. I hope to take part in new exciting projects that meet my ethics
and values. I want to do my bit to bring awareness to the natural world and
encourage people to care for the environment through creativity.
I wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
I have moved studio this summer to be in my home town of Belper. I am
now at ‘Fleet Arts’. It is an old school house building and has been an
arts centre for many years. From here I am able to have my messy space down
in the basement and then use the hall upstairs to run workshops. The hall
is a larger space so I can accommodate more people. I am looking forward to
running my first workshop here on 20th Oct.
Why you are asking? Its not November.
Well let me explain. Creatively I feel like a Catherine wheel.
This time of the year things are very slow to get off the ground. I
spend a lot of time thinking about new ideas and projects. I complete my
tax return and spend lots of time promoting, with email and lots of screen
I want to get making, but I feel a lack of motivation. It seems to
happen every January. I slowly start to pick up again, start to make,
create and pick up momentum. Eventually I end up whizzing and busy, busy
and then I will fizzle out, usually around August time. Right now I need
someone to light my fuse!
It’s funny when I am really busy I think of loads of things I want to
make, but then don’t have the time. Right now I have more time but don’t
feel like it. I am trying to go with the flow. I want to be more like
water than a Catherine wheel, going with the flow, nice and steady.
So I am trying to be kind and gentle with myself and not worry too much
if I am not weaving away. I have some willow just about ready and may
fiddle with a few of the sticks over the next few days and see what
happens. In the mean time I have my 7 month old pup, Opal, to keep me
more than busy.
Oh and thanks to the person who took the Catherine wheel image. I
couldn’t find the persons name to credit them.
Excited for 2018
2018 is set to be an exciting year. I am already planning some great
projects, some of which are in the pipe line and others confirmed. I will
keep you up to date with projects as I get the go ahead on them.
I now have some new Jan- spring workshop dates at Cromford Via-Gellia.
So if you fancy having a go then this is a great opportunity to learn a new
skill. Click on the calendar to find the dates!
I am also pleased to say that I am also going to be running some
workshops with ‘Zantium’ in Godfrey Hole near Wirksworth, Derbshire. Dates
are throughout the year. More on that to come.
In July I shall be exhibiting at a new large woodland festival called
the ‘Timber’ festival in the National Forest. It sounds amazing so check it
I just have a few more jobs for 2017 then I can take it easy for a few
weeks. I intend to relax with my family and get very merry over the festive
Preparing for swan sculptures
With summer a distant memory and Autumn now in full swing, I am turning
my attentions to the 4 swan commissions I have for kedleston hall. I have
done some sketches, taken photos and had my armatures made, so now its time
to weave the willow.
It’s always hard to start a project and this one has been no exception.
I am like a Catherine wheel, slow to start then hard to stop! Just need
This little lady has been keeping me on my toes over the last couple of
weeks, so not much weaving has been done.
Opal is my new work pal and will keeping me company at the studio. She
is sooooooo cute but a little cheeky. Not sure it’s going to be easy
training her to leave my sticks alone.
Summer sculpture workshop
On Sat and Sun 24th and 25th June I am running a willow sculpture
weekend at my studio at the Via-Gellia Mills, Cromford. There are still a
few places left so if you fancy having ago at creating your own
personalised creature then this is the perfect opportunity. You could make
a bird, rabbit, pig or a simple four legged small animal. To book just
click on the workshops page or get in touch.
Buzzing off to RHS Chatsworth
I have spent the last week preparing a large willow bee for the
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust stand at the RHS Chatsworth flower show in
Come and visit their lovely stand from the 7-11th June. Its should be
Three workshop dates added
I’ve added three more workshops dates to our calendar. Join me and
explore the craft of willow.
Willow Sculpture Weekends
Join me and explore the craft of willow. Learn some basic techniques
used in sculpture and experience the feeling of well being that weaving
brings. Enjoy a social and creative day and take home the pieces that you