Last Spring we were awarded one of nine endangered craft skills grants to teach one of our employees, Melissa, how to skein willow. We were able to provide her with specialist tools and document the process so to bring awareness to the traditional craft skill of willow skeining and the list of endangered craft skills itself... Below is an excerpt from the booklet she has produced documenting her experience, which can be downloaded HERE.
"My training was made possible thanks to the Heritage Crafts Association grant for endangered craft skills. and Monica Cass of par-avion co. This funding has provided me the opportunity to obtain handmade specialist tools and hone a craft skill that I aim to improve upon, and champion in the future.
The process of skeining willow is time consuming and requires a great deal of skill in order to minimise waste. Few products are made utilising skeined willow, as the preparation of material is slow and exacting, with an abundance of cheaper alternatives available. It is for this reason that Willow skeining is currently on the Heritage Crafts Association’s red list of endangered craft, with only a few known practitioners currently making in the U.K...
The skeins that I have produced thus far, I am proud to say, have been used to weave the seats of custom made par-avion co. stools. Through utilising traditional craft techniques in modern designs that are in production, the aim is to provide a contemporary example of these skills, resulting in them remaining relevant to current tastes and style. Working with such time intensive raw materials provides an extra level of craftsmanship to par avion products, and I hope to utilise and expand on my skillset to develop new ways of using skeined willow in order to maintain a declining craft skill - and hopefully inspire others to consider it as a material of choice."