So my first term of teaching at Morley College is over – I made it! It was nerve wracking to start with, but it’s been extremely rewarding watching students who have never done any basketry taking obvious pleasure in developing their skills. An Ofsted inspection in the middle of the term added extra pressure to make sure all the paperwork was in order.
Three hours is actually a fair amount of time: I quickly learned not to underestimate how fast some students can work. In the first part of the course they learned how to make different items using checkweave plaiting. These included bias weaving, straight weaving and skewed weaving, as well as making a flat pouch.
For the final part of the course the students were free to work on their own projects. I emphasised that they did not necessarily have to end up with a fully resolved piece. It was more about the process and what they learned from it. At the end I asked them to do a short self evaluation: what they set out to do, what went well, and what they would do differently next time.
It was very interesting to see the different approaches and ambitions. Gaby focused on using materials she harvested herself (she works in a garden). Nicola felt confident enought to tackle tricky twill plaiting. Justine made her own plaited strips from flax and then wove them in a very open structure, wrapping them together where they crossed. Evie wanted to try making a cat’s head basket, found it tricky to shape in paper and moved to using cane. She plans to weave the sides with varied materials, including homemade nalbinding. Finally, Virna took a more experimental approach, making a series of samples in paper to explore corners and crevices.
It was a real pleasure teaching this group, and I think they enjoyed it too.
Next term, starting on 25 April, we will be working with foraged materials. We will start by making cordage (string) from plant materials like daffodil stalks, day lily leaves and corn husks. Then we will explore what to do with it, using techniques such as coiling, looping and twining. More details and booking on the Morley College website.