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Oak basketry - Swill Skills

Duration: 2 days residential. 9.30am-4.30pm each day.

Price: £175

Run by: Lorna Singleton
at Lorna Singleton Oak swill baskets

Oakbank Sawmill,

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About the Course

Oak swill basketry is an endangered craft unique to South Cumbria with only 2 full-time swillers practicing & teaching the craft.

Swill baskets are made using oak from carefully managed ancient woodland in Cumbria. This course combines greenwood and basketry technique to teach the basics of processing the wood and some beginner weaving patterns.

The emphasis of this course is on the process of converting stems of oak into strips of weaving quality
Starting from a stem of an oak tree you will:
Cleave the wood into sections down its length, using a froe and mallet.
Cleave off any heartwood and discard it
Boil the wood over fire
Rive the wood apart down its length using knives to start the split, then your hands and knees to control the split.
Dress the wood to weaving quality using a knife and a leather patch on your knee.
Make two small baskets using bias plait weaving techniques.
Learn about the history of swill basket making and the management of oak coppice woodland.

I'm interested in contemporary uses of the material & exploring the limitations of the oak so if you have any ideas of small projects you'd like to discuss or start weaving then bring them along.

The process of boiling oak makes a black soup that can stain everything purple so make sure you wear old clothes or something you don't mind getting grubby.

Maximum of 7 participants.

Please get in touch via the contact form above for further details and bookings.

If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above or telephone us. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.

What's included in the price?

Accommodation is in a eco bunkhouse 7 miles north of Kendal. There is also space for two small tents so if you'd prefer to camp just ask when you book.

The bunkhouse is in a beautiful rural location in Cumbria with plenty of local walks, some resident fell ponies and a beautiful stream nearby. The bunkhouse is remote & not directly on any transport links but we can offer lifts to & from Kendal train station at the start & end of the course.

As there are no shops nearby please come prepared with enough food for the 2 days. The bunkhouse has a fully equipped kitchen.

There will be plenty of tea, coffee and freshly baked cakes.

I'll provide all the equipment we need but feel free to bring any of your own tools that you might like to try. We'll be using:
Axes, wedges and maul
Knife with comfortable handle and preferably straight blade (Frost carving knives or similar)

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Course Start Dates

Course dates are flexible; please get in touch for the next available date.

  • Accessible by public transport
  • Accommodation
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Suitable for events & groups