Working wood in the hills


making wood buttons

I traveled to the hills yesterday to visit family and do some work with wood.  Willow is a great source of wood as it is quick growing and managing through pollarding, pruning the upper branches to encourage new growth, increases it’s lifespan and encourages specialist wild life.  So I also collected some green wood from the family willow tree for a willow weaving project.  Once the branches were cut I trimmed the parts too old for weaving and stripped the leaves and then weaved them into circles.  It’s surprisingly hard work as the less flexible parts of the wood need a significant amount to pressure to bend them into shape.   So after finishing a couple I decided to finish the others later at home.

Having the larger parts of the branches left over gave me the idea to try and make some buttons from them.  This didn’t workout as the wood was too green and so was too full of sap to saw successfully.   Luckily wood that had previously been pollarded from the willow had been stored to allow it to season, that is dry out so it can be used for wood working.  The wood that had been stored for a couple of years worked really well and could be sawn into even round segments.  I kept the bark on because I think it adds to the look.  After being sawn the buttons are kept in a tub with olive oil to seal them, this also made the surface smooth enough that it didn’t need sanding.  I’m going to leave them to soak for a while before drilling the holes for the button threads.  It was really nice to catch up with my family and I’m thankful for all the help, entertaining conversation and great food that was on offer.

Pollarding Willow

Woven willow circle

Willow circle

Wood store

Sealing the wood buttons

cutting buttons

Wooden button drying in the sun

Earth Day giveaway


Tansy beetle bag for giveaway

Tansy beetle bag for giveaway

I’ve taken the beetle fabric I printed yesterday and created an envelope bag which I’m giving away to celebrate Earth Day on the 22nd April. I’ll put the details about how to enter at the end of this post.

Yesterday I wrote about creating the fabric print that’s featured on the bag and I’d like to tell you a bit more about the beetle that inspired the design. I first saw the iridescent green beetle by the River Ouse a few years ago. I took a couple of photos but didn’t think much of the bug until some time later when I decided to find out what it was. That’s when I found out about the Tansy beetle. The beetle is endangered and extremely rare in the United Kingdom, and it’s shell is so shiny that people say the Victorians used it as sequins.

Tansy beetle

Tansy beetle

It is an endangered species and in decline due to environment changes that effect it’s ecosystem. It is so scarce that the only place in the UK it is known to survive is along some of the River Ouse centered on the stretch that runs by my home in York.

So, this weekend when I was walking by the river and saw a Tansy beetle shining green and gold I was very glad that these beetles were still hanging on. This tenacious Tansy inspired me to create the design as a celebration of its survival. I thought using some of my organic fair trade cotton to create a giveaway for Earth day would be cool and a reminder to everyone about the reaches of the environment just outside our doors as well as across the whole planet.

The bag that I’m giving away is made from organic fair trade cotton and is printed with water based ink. 27 cm by 20 cm. The material is called santeen unbleached and was undyed until I added the pattern. It’s fastened with velcro at the top and although the fabric is sturdy it is probably best not to put anything too heavy in it. The beetles are each individual arranged in a unique pattern and printed in green with a touch of gold. I like to use these sort of bags when I’m shopping to separate smaller items, such as cotton reels, within my bigger bag. It could also be used to store a notebooks, as a kindle sleeve, a clutch bag or to keep an ipad in (although I haven’t check the size as I don’t own one). It’s unique and individually hand made and printed by myself.

To enter comment on this post and include the words “Tansy beetle”. The giveaway ends at midnight (00:00 GMT) on the 26th of April 2011 so only posts before then will be entered. I’ll contact the winner by email so make sure the email address you fill in when you comment is accurate. Only one entry per person and the winner will be chosen randomly from everyone who enters.