Sculptural and functional basketry: flat and fine flexible materials with Mary Crabb

Ref: SSS31587

About this course

Explore the techniques of plaiting and braiding in two and three dimensions before applying skills to the making of an individual piece of basketry, sculptural or functional.

Course Description

This course will be focusing on the technique of plaiting and related braiding as basketry techniques. Two plaiting techniques will be taught; check weave and hex weave. Both require the interlacing of flat strands in an ordered sequence to generate woven grids of squares or hexagons and triangles. These grids can be worked in two- and three- dimensions to create woven surfaces or baskets. Twining will also be taught as a technique for adding interest and stability to the forms.

To begin, time will be spent learning how to work the weaves flat before looking at how corners can be inserted to change the dimension of the form. Later we will explore how additional strands can be added and manipulated to embellish the woven surfaces. Curved organic forms using flat strands and paper yarn will also be explored through a decorative ‘chrysanthemum base’. Ideas will be extended to include the weaving of decorative plaits and braids. Towards the end of the week, the tutor will work individually with students to develop designs for their own unique piece of plaited and/or twined basketry which could be sculptural or functional using mainly paper-based materials.

Accessible and simple materials, such as paper will be encouraged, as well as the use of recycled tetrapaks (a strong and durable material.) For final pieces of work, the tutor will offer options to work with flat band cane and a beautiful coloured Japanese PaperBand.

The tutor will demonstrate techniques, provide visual notes and offer individual support to students. A course aimed at beginners and  intermediate makers. No previous experience of the techniques is necessary. There will be opportunities for supported working, exploration and experimentation.

Please note, all work is made in the hands and can be tiring on the hands, neck and shoulders, so please consider this before booking.

Summer School highlights:
The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course.  A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work
• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course
• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)
• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio
• A celebration dinner on the last evening themed on Impressionism, celebrating the150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition held in Paris in1874. Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.
• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully.

Course Materials


On this course, the tutor will supply all of the materials, including:

  • Paper/recycled paper/newspaper
  • Tetrapak strips
  • Border paper
  • Plastic packing tape
  • Card
  • Japanese paperband for sampling
  • Flat band cane
  • Waxed cotton cord
  • Tools will be available to loan
  • Tapestry and plastic needles will be supplied

What students need to bring

  • A notebook or sketchbook for recording any additional information
  • A camera (ideally on a phone for easy access) may be useful for recording the stages of working
  • Please bring reading glasses if required for close work
  • Clean, empty, washed out and dry tetrapaks. (One is enough if you want to have a go at cutting your own weaving material, but bring more if you want to cut a quantity)
  • Any large sheets of paper (A3 and bigger) that you might like to cut into strips. Papers will behave differently depending on their weight and roughness
  • Unwanted drawings/paintings/posters would give a decorative surface to the basket. 140gsm cartridge paper works well
  • If you have any pictures of grid like structures, these may provide inspiration
  • Tweezers or tweezer-nosed pliers if you have them (optional as some tools will be available for use)


Available to buy

Available from shop:

  • A selection of large sheets of cartridge and other papers, including coloured and Khadi papers
  • Available from tutor (you’ll need to pay the tutor by cash or cheque):
  • Japanese PaperBand in a range of colours available to purchase by the metre

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio; this includes stout covered footwear (no open-toes or sandals), and safety boots if specified.


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

General Information


Mary Crabb

Mary Crabb is an award-winning contemporary basketmaker. Having originally worked in willow, Mary now works with fine flexible materials, both natural and man-made, to create small, detailed and decorative woven forms exploring the connection between basketry and textiles.


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.