Tick-Tock weave baskets with Sue Kirk

Ref: S3D33194

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About this course

Working with a variety of willows, learn how to weave contemporary textured, painterly baskets, using the forward and reverse rope weave technique. Beginners start with straight sided shapes and more advanced students may try a more complex, bulbous shape.

Course Description

Learn how to make contemporary style baskets, using the herringbone weave technique, and gain an understanding of how to weave a basket into a desired shape. You will also be provided with information to develop an understanding of how to grow, prepare and select willow for basketmaking independently. You can expect to make one or two baskets.

The tutor will introduce a number of traditional and contemporary basketry techniques and show you how to use them successfully within your baskets. You will develop your understanding of how you can skilfully manipulate willow uprights into a desired shape. You will be encouraged to develop the skill of selecting the correct sized willow rods for each part of the basket, so you can understand the importance of this and the effect this has upon the weave.

By the end of the course, you will know how to:

- Complete a basket, using the forward and reverse wale weave effectively to achieve an even weave, clearly showing the herringbone weave.

- Achieve the desired shape of the basket through use of skills learnt to control the side stakes of the basket.

- Weave effectively, using the correct sized rods for each part of the basket.

This three day course is suitable for all levels. You will use traditional and contemporary basketry weaves to create your herringbone weave basket, such as: pairing, pull down wale, three rod forward and reverse wale and three rod or five rod border. You will find the course more manageable if you already have a certain amount of strength and dexterity in your hands and fingers.

In the tutor’s experience, the easier shapes to make are the ones with straight sides, so if you are a beginner, you will start with one of these. Intermediate and advanced basketmakers can practise more complex shapes by controlling side stakes to create bulbous forms.

The tutor will bring along a number of coloured willows, which she has grown; you can use them to add colour to the weave to give a painterly finish. She will also have some beautiful English hazel, which you can use as handles for your baskets. However, if you prefer to bring in your own wood or material for your handle, you are welcome to do so.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • A small stool or solid wooden box, roughly 25cm tall x 25cm long x 20cm wide. This is for weaving on. It is fine if the box or stool is bigger than this, but the height is important, as you need the top of the stool/box to be at eye level when it sits on a table.
  • Sturdy covered footwear in the workshop – this is an essential health and safety requirement.
  • All tools are provided, but you can bring your own if you prefer to use them. This includes the following:
  • Tape measure, ruler – at least one foot long
  • Two to three spring clothes pegs
  • A pair of sharp secateurs (preferably parrot-beak shape), a good penknife, side or wire cutters
  • Small hammer or rapping iron
  • A couple of large old towels

Available to buy

  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will supply all of the materials, including willow and hazel. These cost as follows:
  • A small basket £10.00
  • A medium basket £15.00
  • Large basket £18.00


Sue Kirk - Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Sue Kirk

Sue Kirk has been growing willow and weaving baskets for 20 years in King's Cliffe, Northamptonshire. She makes traditional and contemporary baskets using several varieties of home grown willow. She works to commission and creates her own designs for galleries and interior spaces. She teaches basketry at her workshop in King's Cliffe and at the City Lit. 


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.