Whilst there are more willow basketmakers than swillers or trugmakers it is still a declining craft. There are a good number of amateurs and many people using basketmaking skills to produce sculpture, the area that is in decline is the full time working basketmaker producing functional baskets and this is arguably the area that demands the highest skill, some would say that it is only through production work that your skills become honed.
It was a joy then at the Norfolk show to meet Rob and Julie King who work hard and make beutiful functional baskets at a speed that makes them affordable.
It is clear as Rob is working that there is very little concious thought going on, his body is just doing the job, very much as many people drive a car, a very complex task which takes several years to become thoroughly competent but once you can do it it no longer feels hard, and you can chat away without thinking about the driving.
Rob and Julie are also folk musicians and were talling me about how licensing laws had made it very difficult for folk musicians to play in pubs any more, the pubs need a license for live music now which is prohibitively expensive if they just want a small folk session.
Rob and Julie’s workshop is a Dareham in Norfolk, here is their website.