Have you ever had something made especially commissioned for you? An item of clothing made to your measurements perhaps? A portrait of your child or pet? Well, I never ever had, until recently. I asked friend and willow crafter Amanda Rayner to make me a log basket.
Someone I know who also runs their house from a Rayburn, goes through three log baskets a year. The cheap ones from the hardware shop cost around £20. I paid £60 for mine, which is twice as big, maybe three times actually; I chuck in two heaped wheel barrow-fuls and measures 65cm by 60cm by 56cm deep. I’ve had it now for nearly a year and not one single willow stem has broken and it looks set to last for many years to come. The base has 4 layers of thick willow.
Anyway, regardless of all the practicalities and financial benefits; it is the utter joy of owning something that was made for me. Just for me. I know other log baskets will be made by Amanda to the same specifications, but they won’t be exactly identical to mine. When she arrived, carrying my basket on her back and she told me how she works the weaving with the basket up-side-down, by sticking the corner stems into the ground and working up; it just felt wonderful; having a conversation with the person who made the item that will sit in my kitchen and be used daily. If you’ve never had that feeling, I recommend you try it. If you don’t have the money straight away, pile up those logs on the floor for a year and save up those £20s!
It has really inspired me to try and have more things for the house commissioned. I’d like to start with asking a blacksmith to make me curtain poles. I am so sick of attempting a fully stretched flick many times half way along the pole at the point where the extension bit slides out, every single time I draw the flipping curtains. All the plastic hooks keep bending. And the poles weren’t particularly cheap either! And I’ve wrapped black tape around the join to try and minimise the shock of the diameter difference.
Anyway, I’m rambling. The point is, I highly recommend contacting Amanda Rayner if you’re after anything made from willow. Check out her website. She makes everything from baskets to coffins to living willow domes and fences. She also does workshops around Somerset and Wales.