Woven cradles seem to have been neglected by basket makers in recent years yet I am certain there are many parents who would much rather have a cradle hand made from sustainable materials than a machine made pvc one. The hand made cradle used to be an object of desire that families treasured and handed on to the next generation. It would seem to be a tradition that is ripe for revival and what could be better than making one yourself?
I was delighted therefore to be sent this picture by Pip Hall (who, by a very strange coincidence, is a stone carver www.piphall.co.uk ) of a 'moses' basket made from tetra paks. Pip participates in workshops started by Monica Tweddell in Cumbria which she calls 'crafty container' workshops because, she tells me, they were inspired by my book of the same name. This beautiful basket was made by Elizabeth Dawson, a fellow participant, for her neices son William and is plaited out of approximately 44 soya milk cartons.
The revival of the woven coffin in recent years has been, in my view, a basket making success story. Both the owner occupier versions and those crafted by professionals seem infinitely more humane than the gloss varnished exotic hardwood, or worse still,mdf and brass handled caskets that are not only environmentally dubious but have a grim formality about them that says nothing about the person inside.
The Somerset Willow Company http://www.wickerwillowcoffins.co.uk/ has made a speciality of woven coffins and this one made for a child has a simplicity and beauty that seemed perfect to me when I saw it being made. Perhaps it is the similarity between the woven cradle and the woven coffin that suggests that a life has come full circle and the physical body is now returning from whence it came that makes it in some very small way, comforting.