The artful skill of turning strands of willow into sturdy, useful and decorative baskets is alive and well, thanks to people like Chris, Newby and Nick at the Delrow Basketry.
'I like making baskets', says Chris. 'Nick shows us what to do. I've been working here for several years. What I'm making now could well be a shopping basket. I'm using orange willow. I like using yellow willow, but I don't always.'
Newby is working on a fine basket, too. 'This one is going all right', he says. 'The thing is, I'm very new in the Basketry Workshop. But I like it very much. I like moving my fingers about. Weaving in and weaving out.'
'Being dexterous is the important thing', agrees Nick, Delrow's basket- maker-in-chief.
The dignity of meaningful work
As you stand and watch amidst the workbenches, surrounded by patterned baskets that are ready to go to local markets, there is very much a senseof shared enterprise and pride that others will choose, use and enjoy them.
It all helps to support the community and everyone has a part to play, from start to finish. So while Nick might make the base and 'wrangle' the bare bones of the basket into shape, it's Chris, Newby or one of ten other people who will decide the colour and design, and clothe it in willow.
By the time you read this they'll be working with freshly harvested willow from our friends at Camphill Milton Keynes, plus willow from Somerset that comes in a variety of colours, to make each basket a pleasure to look at and use, as well as to create.