Handmade fire screen

The fire screen has been needed for a long time to prevent sparks burning the wooden floor or setting light to the willow sofa, but also to hide the ugly black hole in the summer. The problem here was that the fireplace is large so most screens available in the shops or at bric a bracs are not big enough. I live in a modest single storey village house with a cow barn at one end but it is also a house with pretensions because, oddly, it has a fireplace fit for a chateau. We think a stone mason lived here once because the masons symbol was carved into the lintel over a doorway on an outbuilding, and that he built this extraordinary fireplace to show off his handiwork to prospective customers.

Some yellow and black aluminium beer cans were chosen for the task because they are reasonably fire proof and the colours seemed appropriate for the room. Cut down vertically, but still attached to the bases of the tins, the strips were spread out and interwoven.

This structure was then stitched with copper wire to some galvanised mesh left over from a ‘grown home’ installation. The most difficult part was finding the right material to make the structure self supporting without having a heavy frame around it and I tried many different ways of doing it. In the end I used some rectangular section galvanised strips that are normally used for holding up sheets of plasterboard when lining walls.  I had to cut them in half lengthwise by hand and  the noise was excruciating. The final combination of thin galvanised angle for the frame and  the addition of feet has made it both rigid and very lightweight. It has been named ‘Firework’.

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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