Oak Spelk Baskets
Four Day Course – Cost – tba
Date to be confirmed
Oak spelk (swill) basketmaking is a critically endangered craft from the South Cumbria fells. Learn the whole process from splitting an oak stem to the final sturdy oak shopping basket.
Skills covered include:
– Cleaving oak, with wedges and a froe, into billets that are ready to be boiled.
– Shaving hazel stems with a drawknife. Steaming this hazel and bending it around a former to create the bool, or rim, of the basket, and another for the handle.
– Using a series of knife sizes to rive oak out of the boiler into strips that are ready to be woven.The knife starts the split before we tear the oak in two in a controlled manner.
– Using a drawknife and mare to dress and shape tougher strips into the spelks (ribs) of the basket
– Using a knife to dress taws (weavers) ready to weave.
– Constructing the frame basket.
These skills are transferable to other frame and split wood baskets as well as to many other greenwood crafts. Making these baskets is a physical activity and involves a degree of hand strength.
Tutor Lorna Singleton is an experienced basket maker who learned this craft from Owen Jones.