Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Weaving a Nest

Willow nest in the Cherry tree

As I wrote about a little while ago I've got a slight sphere/nest obsession thing which has been going on for some time. I recently made a piece on the theme of 'home' for an on-line exhibition based on my nest ideas. This weekend Mr. Stitches decided he wanted to cut the hedges and trim the little Glasgow Willow in our front garden, I asked him to save the willow for me as I thought I might have a go at a bit of weaving.

The raw materials

Work station

I started off with no real plan, I just wanted to have a play about with the willow and see what would happen. I'm planning to do a traditional basketry evening course this term so I thought a bit of free form messing about might be good. Obviously the willow I was working with was very fresh (leaves and everything) and I had a somewhat random selection of lengths and widths. However, I chose to embrace this as part of the project and one of the things I'm really interested in is to see how the piece changes over the coming weeks, how it weathers and if it can retain it's structure.

Willow circles

Starting to take shape

I began by making a few different sized willow circles by gently flexing and bending the willow and wrapping it around itself. As I started playing around with the circles the idea of a nest popped back into my head so I set off (very vaguely) in that direction.

Nest entrance

The finished nest sculpture

I've done a fair bit of willow weaving (mostly giant puppets!) but this was quite different. As I was working with quite short lengths and unstripped stems it was harder to see the structure emerging and I've ended up with quite dense areas and very open areas rather than a more even spread. I also was not using tape, as I have done previously, but relying on the willow itself and a few bits of linen thread (I wanted the whole thing to be totally bio-degradable) which has led to a perhaps less strong structure than I would normally create.

Finished sculpture hanging up

Weave detail

Entrance detail

Despite these challenges (and a very limited supply of stems) I persevered and I'm quite pleased with the result, which I've hung in a tree in our back garden. I'm looking forward to seeing how the nest changes and alters over the coming weeks, how the weather and nature will affect it and how long and in what format it will survive. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow to a pile of twigs and a heap of thread or maybe it will survive the winter and the climber that grows up the tree will colonise it, or maybe something entirely alternative...

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