Victorian Farm, Owen Jones swill basket maker.

We don’t have a TV but several folk told me I should watch the BBCs “Victorian Farm” on iplayer.

Most of the presenters are friends, Ruth Goodman a Tudor expert has used my bowls for years, the latest episode featured two other friends Owen Jones my all time craft hero and in my opinion a “living national treasure” this is a short video of him making a swill basket.

I have been doing shows with Owen for 15 years and what makes him unusual amongst craftsmen today is that like me he makes most of his income from making and selling his baskets not from demonstrations, teaching, grants etc. He does do a couple of courses a year and I would highly recommend them. If you do a course at his home you will also get an excellent lunch served from my bowls and plates.

Another presenter Alex Langlands has an interest in traditional crafts and we have been coresponding about our new organisation. Yesterday Alex sent me this email

“The BBC series ‘The Victorian Farm’ has proved quite a success story so far with the last twp episodes gaining a greater share of viewers than ITV and C4 (surprise, surprise: people are not as interested in celebrity tantrums and car chases as they are in a traditional rural way of life). Most importantly from our perspective is that many people are contacting me wanting to know about how to make baskets, lip salves and hurdles etc. and how, generically, they can employ some of those skills/products in their everyday lives. I’m being asked by the BBC what a follow up series should include and I’m pushing traditional crafts and skills as a core aspect – I’ll keep you posted.”

Here are the links to the iplayer program if you missed it.

4 Responses to Victorian Farm, Owen Jones swill basket maker.

  1. Woodland Antics January 28, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    Hello Robin,quite right about Owen Jones. My wife made a basket on his course last year, to complement the one that she bought from him, almost 20years ago. I’ve not seen any of the Victorian farm but clearly I am missing out, so I will try to get it together.Interesting comments on the crafts organisation, I don’t think I have much useful to add – other than to express my support. Are you in communications with the coppice groups?cheersMark

  2. Robin Wood January 28, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Hi Mark,Owens courses are a joy, if you do one at his home you even get to eat out of my bowls. He is such a nice guy too, certainly an inspiration to me.If you want to add something why not email your MP and ask him why the UK is not signed up to the UNESCO convention. 15 MPs have letters already tonight, we will make a difference.

  3. Bodger January 29, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Hi Robin,Just in case you and Nicola were not aware (but probably are!) there is a fantastic archive of film material on craftsmen here: . Someone came by my workshop yesterday who had a french polishing (many of these left? He was retired) workshop below Sam Hannah’s and it reminded me of these films. I’ll send a letter to my MP (who, I think gets his pay for nothing as far as I can tell) on the UNESCO convention.KRs,Richard Law

  4. Robin Wood January 29, 2009 at 8:13 am #

    Hi Richard,Thanks for the link to the Sam Hanna archive, I did not know of it and it looks very interesting. I have never seen archive footage of a clog blocker and there are a few more there that I would love to see.I think quite a few MPs will be getting letters now, they will probably all forward them to the minister responsible and in a week or two we will all get the same answer. I will be interested to hear what they say. I don’t even know which government dept is responsible for living heritage.