Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with renowned fibre artist Trudi Nisbet. What a wonderful time spent with lovely like minded creatives sipping tea, munching on Trudi’s home-made pistachio lime slice and learning the traditional art of basketry weaving with plants.
Trudi introduced us to the many freely available sustainable weaving materials that surround us in our gardens and on the side of the road that she had already collected, soaked and dried. Organic materials need to be prepared this way to avoid shrinking after drying out. We made our selection from the myriad of vines and richly coloured fibre threads and got started.
Coiling the plant strands and wrapping the thread between layers is a slow process but very relaxing and meditative as the spiral gets wider and forms organically in your hands. I experimented with various coloured threads to see the effect. Once the base was wide enough it was time to go up for the walls.
Partly due to running out of time, laziness and a curiosity to try a different technique I then chose more robust chunky vines and a subtle brown thread to try and emulate a more natural organic shaped basket. The vision was a bird creating a nest with whatever she could get her hands on..
Being less precious with the coiling allowed me to swathe chunkier layers and work faster on the randomly forming walls that grew a life of their own.
Trudi was fantastic in the way she shared her abundant knowledge of basketry but also encouraged each of us to experiment and pursue whatever path felt right. The finished collection was a mix of baskets and beautiful wall hangings in various textures and colours. We left the workshop energised and armed with a new lifelong skill and way of looking at plant materials.
After getting home I couldn’t resist relaxing in the garden and finishing the walls, weaving is addictive!
The completed ‘birdsnest basket’ was a rich tapestry of intertwined vines and reeds with a beautiful weight and sturdiness.
The next day I couldn’t resist prepping the basket and filling it with succulents and a few feathers, a lovely reminder of a day well spent learning this ancient craft.
I would highly recommend doing a workshop with Trudi if you ever get a chance. Good for the soul to carve out mindful time for yourself to create without distractions. Check out her website , Instagram or Facebook pages for upcoming dates and exhibitions.