About this course

Create a large or small scale contemporary sculptural basket. Learn how to weave willows using the interlace technique, adding movement and flow to the surface of your work. This creative workshop is suitable for all levels.

Course Description

Learn how to build large and small scale non-figurative sculptural baskets using the interlace technique. We will look for inspiration from Japanese bamboo basketry to contemporary makers, such as: Catherine Joy, Lizzy Farey, Joe Hogan, John McQueen, and environmental artists, Chris Dury and Patrick Dougherty. You can add hazel handles into your baskets and also bring along soft fibres or found objects to incorporate into your work.

By the end of this workshop, you will have woven either one large or medium sized interlace basket or two smaller interlaced baskets; the choice is yours. You will also learn how to interlace with willow and have a wider knowledge of contemporary interlace weavers and their styles of work.

You will learn how to:

* Design a simple shape using natural forms as a starting point.

* Build a framework using willow hoops.

* Interlace the first layer of weave to create ‘pockets’ or ‘anchor points’.

* Interlace a final top layer of weave, which adds movement and flow to the surface of your basket.

Practise the following techniques required to construct your basket, including:

* Learn how to select the correct size rods necessary for weaving each area of the basket.

* Weave willow successfully to build secure and sturdy hoops.

* Thread willow through hoops to build a strong framework or armature for your basket.

* Practise manipulating rods to achieve a ‘base’ and good balance for the basket so it ‘sits’ well on a surface.

* Interlace with willow correctly to create a solid first layer of ‘pockets’ or ‘anchor points’ necessary for the creation of the final layer of weave.

* Successfully interlace a final layer of weave, which shows a sense of flow, which, in turn, gives an impression of movement over the surface of your basket.

Experiment with coloured willows/hazel/natural matarials/found objects (optional). You may choose coloured willows to achieve a variety of different effects on the surface of the basket and learn how colour blends, complements or projects itself on a surface. If chosen, you may add natural or found materials into your work to embellish surfaces, create handles or add narrative to your work. Suitable additional materials to source and bring with you are natural materials and/or found objects. Hazel will be provided by the tutor and can be used for handles if required.

On the first evening, we will discuss the works of contemporary makers and look at images of their work. There will also be examples of interlace baskets for you to look at and find inspiration from. You will be given help to design your basket. We will look at natural forms such as pebbles and man-made forms such as ceramic vases, which have inspired your tutor in the past. Your tutor will explain how they design their sculptural pieces.

Your finished basket will be large scale, roughly 50cm wide x 25cm tall, or you can make smaller pieces, roughly 25cm wide x 15cm tall. There is no fixed measurements, so you can build a basket of your choice.


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

  • All tools and materials are provided by the tutor. Though you have the option to bring along natural or man-made materials which you may wish to incorporate into your work.
  • Covered footwear is essential in this workshop

Available to buy

  • Available from tutor:
  • On the last day of the course, you will need to pay the tutor for materials used, including willow and hazel. Guide to costs:
  • Large interlace basket £15
  • Medium interlace basket £10
  • Small interlace basket £7

Additional information

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


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.

Courses of interest

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.