The Front Room


The Front Room


The Floating Front Room
South Loop Park, Rotton Park Street, Birmingham, B16 0AE


27 Oct 2021


2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Autumn Basket Weaving with Iris Bertz

Join Iris for a make and take creative session learning the art of willow basket weaving.

You’ll learn how to grow, harvest, handle and work with willow by making a small bowl based on a willow wreath. Iris will teach a freestyle technique which will help you to create support structures that can live outside in your garden or inside your home. All skill levels welcome and no previous experience required.

What You’ll Need

— Kneeling Pad (you can take a blanket from the boat if you don’t have one)
— Secateurs (Bypass type)
— Flathead Screwdriver
If you don’t have these, why not see if you can borrow them from a friend, family member, neighbour or Share Shack on St Vincent Street West, Birmingham, B16 8RP?
This drop in session is hosted in person at South Loop Park, Rotton Park Street, Birmingham, B16 0AE. There are only 10 spaces available, so if you are really keen to take part, we recommend you sign up below to secure your place or arrive early with your tools!

About Willow Basket Weaving

Basket weaving is one of the oldest crafts that can be found in some form in almost every part of the world. Britain was renowned for skilled basketry, usually hazel, oak and most notably in willow. During the Industrial Revolution 3,000 acres of willow were planted in the early 1800s to keep up with the demand.
In English folklore, a willow tree is believed to be capable of uprooting itself and stalking travellers. During the 16th and 17th centuries the association became particular to grief suffered by forsaken lovers. Young willow twigs were also chewed to relieve pain and in the early 19th century scientists isolated the active ingredient to be salicylic acid.
There are around 200 professional basket weavers that work today. It feels joyful to think that the ancient relationship with this tree will continue in South Port Loop Park!

About Iris

Iris Bertz has worked with willow for many years. She first encountered willow basketry in East Germany and then did a three year apprenticeship in basketmaking in Stuttgart. She has worked in Ireland with Joe Hogan and has taught a group of professional basket makers in Brazil. Over the last 20 years she has taught many people of different levels and enjoys passing her skills on.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with Iris as a local resident, organiser and artist over the last few years, and have taken great inspiration from her work on Dreaming Tower Ballroom in particular. Her On The Settee talk all about the project can be found here.

About Braiding Sweetgrass

This is an open event connected to our neighbourhood reading circle which hopes to take a deep dive into the experiences, learnings and writings of Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge And The Teachings of Plants, published in 2013.

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, in Braiding Sweetgrass Robin Wall Kimmerer shows how other living beings — asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass — offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

In this reading circle we hope to collectively explore themes of nature, care, intergenerational learning, gratitude, story, myths, regenerative economics, rituals, language, land, regeneration, gift economies and much more.

The journey will encompass nourishing conversation, craft workshops, guest speakers and most importantly a chance for everyone who joins to share their own reflections, experiences and stories related to these themes.

Find Out More

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