Rush basketry – a fisherman's braided Hayve with Tim Johnson

Ref: S4D13103

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About this course

Learn how to weave a Hayve, a traditional fisherman's rush bait basket from Caithness, based on the tutor's research into this attractive basket. It is worked in the Neolithic braiding technique, in a spiralling action to make an elegant design.

Course Description

Neolithic braiding is a highly adaptable and elegant technique that can be used with both soft, flexible and stiffer materials like willow and heather. Its traditional uses reflect this, and today we can use this traditional technique as a starting point for many basketmaking projects and functions.

This course will introduce the use of Neolithic braiding techniques around the world, with reference to baskets from the tutor’s collection, including snail collecting baskets and olive pressing mats from Spain.

You will have time to progress from learning the neolithic braid structure in a small basket and then move on to the more sophisticated Hayve, which is worked from the border down to the base.

On the first day, we will make a small basket or pouch to introduce the Neolithic braiding technique as you gain familiarity with its special structure. Our weaving elements alternate between being stakes and weavers.

Following our first basket, we will move on to the more sophisticated Caithness Hayve, which is begun at the border and worked down the siding, before completing the base with a reducing spiral to the base’s centre, in a similar way to some willow lobster pots.

Since 2019 the tutor has undertaken extensive research into the attractive and distinctive ‘Hayve’, a fisherman’s rush bait basket that he discovered in Thurso, Caithness. Worked in the Neolithic Braiding technique, previously unrecognised as an indigenous technique to the British Isles, and variously called continuous plaiting, Burkina technique and Punto de Cofin, this special basket has an elegant design and is worked in a spiralling action with many rush stakes, but no additional weavers.

The tutor will give an illustrated presentation of his research into Neolithic braiding, and his research into the Caithness Hayve and related heather baskets from Orkney.


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


  • On this course, the College will supply most of the materials, including chair seating rush.
  • The Hayve uses a sisal rope handle, which will be supplied by the tutor.

What students need to bring

  • A water sprayer
  • A cloth to keep your work damp
  • A notebook and a pencil
  • Clothes pegs – just a few to help you hold your work
  • You may find other basket making tools useful, if you have them, including: rush threader and darning/sacking needles
  • Scissors and side cutters/small clippers, if you have them
  • Sturdy covered footwear in the workshop – an essential health and safety requirement

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Large darning needle
  • Rush threaders
  • Notebook and pencil

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Tim Johnson

Over the past 25 years, artist and basketmaker Tim Johnson has explored the relationships of material, place, nature and culture. His diverse creative practice encompasses basketmaking and performance, photography and painting, sculpture and installation, textiles and costume, his work has been exhibited internationally.


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

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