About basketry

“Basket making” is really a misnomer for all that this craft encompasses because it is possible, with these materials and techniques, to make plenty of things that are not baskets: jewellery, buildings, sculpture, boats, fences, shoes, furniture.  The list is endless, and much of  it can  be done with little money and without causing undue harm to our ecosystem. Perhaps, it is both these things that make it so right for the time we are living in.

Baskets, traditionally, have always been sustainable, being made with the materials of the maker’s immediate environment. Ultimately biodegradable and requiring no fossil fuels for their production they are the perfect model for a contemporary product. These are exactly the qualities that every product designer is now seeking for their products.There is a strong movement in Britain and many other parts of Europe and America towards the local and organic. I see no reason why anyone wanting to make a living from “basket making” should not have a ready market for their work as long as they do not compromise the sustainability and authenticity of their products.

Ultimately, it comes down to education, and this is something we briefly touched on in the discussion, but which seems to me to be very important. The general public in the UK, despite being the purchasers of large quantities of basket ware, (according to UK trade statistics over 28 million pounds worth of imported wickerwork and basketwork so far in 2012) is still largely ignorant about basket making and its related activities. I still meet many people who think that the cheap imported baskets they buy in shops are made by machine and very few people can distinguish between native willow and imported cane. Perhaps we need some ‘TV basket makers’ who can show people not only how easy it is to make something, but who could extol the virtues of indigenous ‘ingredients’ and ‘recipes’ and enthuse a whole generation with the magic of cooking up wonderful things with this amazingly versatile and sustainable activity.

Lois Walpole, Britain


Lois Walpole is of Anglo Scottish heritage and trained in Sculpture,  Basket Making and Design.

She works full time as an artist/basket maker taking part in and curating national and international exhibitions, working to commission, designing for production, teaching and writing.

She divides her time between the Shetland Islands and the Charente, in south west France, where her studio is based.

Her blog gives the latest about her teaching and exhibitions and is where she talks about the baskets and basket related things that she finds interesting, inspiring, infuriating and intriguing…

Her self imposed rules are “no materials purchased and basket making techniques employed wherever possible”.

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