Catherine Beaumont – Professional English Willow Basket Maker
I developed a passion for basket making after a weekend workshop in 1996. Using English, and locally sourced willow and coppice materials I love to create beautiful baskets in traditional and contemporary designs.
After initially learning the basics of basketry in 1996, I was fortunate to meet Jack West, a second generation basketmaker. After the closure in 1971 of Cobbetts, the basket making factory in Guildford, Jack had set up as a self employed basketmaker; he had a keen eye for detail, and masses of knowledge. Jack was always willing to advise me on the projects and orders I received at farmers’ markets, including making panniers for donkeys, an umbrella basket for a vintage car, or a wicker arrow carrier for medieval re-enactments. He taught me traditional methods, and techniques he’d learnt over the years. His advice was invaluable.
He was basketmaking daily until the age of 86, only a few weeks before he died. He was passionate about basketmaking. I was privileged to have worked with him.
I work from my home near Midhurst in West Sussex and attend various local markets. Weaving with willow is a wonderful traditional craft, and I am continually inspired by the process of transforming ‘a pile of rods’ into a beautiful and functional item that lasts for years.