Hazel Basketry Tradition in North Wales

Hazel is the traditional material for basketry in my area. David and I have been researching this tradition, looking for surviving baskets and learning about the men who made them. We now make and teach hazel basketry.

Our first hazel basket...David making weavers in the background
Basket making was part of the smallholder's many skills; a
task for winter nights supplying the needs of their own farms, as well as making gifts and baskets for sale.

Each basketmaker would know the nearest woodlands where he could find good quality hazel rods.

I was shown how to prepare the hazel by Bob Williams (Llansannan); at the time, the last hazel basketmaker in the area. Only a knife is needed to prepare the hazel for weaving. A cut into the first growth ring and a bend of the rod allows a weaving strip to be prised off the rod. The pliable peeled rod then bends to form hoops and ribs.

A large animal feed basket made by Aneurin Davies (Betws-yn-Rhos); it is unusual for agricultural baskets to survive due to their
heavy use. This sturdy basket is still used
by its owners, who also have this miniature shopper, by the same maker.

Made by Thomas Richard Jones (Soar,
nr Denbigh), this laundry basket is about 70 years old. It has a round wood hazel whaled pair of feet and wide riven finishers.

This laundry basket was made by Childs Hughes (Llanrhaedr) as a gift to a family member. I love that the four starting ribs have been trimmed differently on each side...scope for individual expression in these baskets is quite limited!

A shopping basket, maker unknown,
with a lovely St Brigit's Cross tie. Although the weaving has worn well, the rim has succumbed to woodworm; a common fate that has meant so few baskets now remain.

Thanks to everyone who has shared their baskets and family histories with me.