Click on these photos to see them full-sized, with captions.
This is the basket that I'm making out of the green and yellow willow that my friends on Galiano brought for me: a simple, raw, round-bottomed vessel with 16 spokes made in two-strand twining.
I think it's the biggest thing I've ever made, if I don't count costumes and clothes. Working on a large scale like this is very different from working on the small scale that I have been. For one thing, it requires a lot more space not only for working, but also for material storage. Soaking the willow and keeping everything damp has also been a challenge; I was fortunate to have two moderately sized tarps given to me by my neighbour, but the willow bundle is only just completely covered when laid on the diagonal of the tarp. I've also had to expropriate some old household towels and sheets to hold the moisture over everything. So far my family and neighbours have been pretty good natured about my storing all this stuff on our front deck area, for which I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have as much outdoor space as we do -- and good weather -- because without them, I would be unable to indulge my need to experiment with larger forms at all.
Willow and larger forms are certainly not a very 'urban-friendly' form of basketry, but I have the feeling that I'm going to be pursuing it regardless. I like the substantial, structural character of larger forms; I like the way they assert themselves into a person's space and attention. I believe that it is radical to have objects and structures made from raw plant materials like this, because they stand up as a serious rebuttal to the industrial, mass-produced character of most of our material culture. In the photo of the unfinished basket 'in context', above, it is surrounded by mass-produced objects of various hard and soft plastics, extruded metals, and pressure-treated lumber. Even though my willow basket may not be as 'durable', I'm willing to bet my expensive pruning shears that it will have a longer functional lifespan. And when it is ready for the trash, it'll be going in the compost bin, not the dumpster.
I've been working on it since Wednesday. It's not something that I could do all in one sitting even if I wanted to, because my hands aren't yet strong enough. I hope that if I'm moderate, I would gradually be able to build up my strength and work longer sessions, and faster. The last thing I want at this point is to cut my weaving career short by pushing my hands too far, too fast and damaging the joints. I hope that I have enough innate, inborn durability to be weaving and making for as long as I want to be.