Saturday, 31 August 2013

Log Baskets

Log Basket II    2013

A basket that I originally made in 2011 has recently been re-worked. I used to think re-working things should never be necessary, now I accept that I don’t always get it right first time, usually because of a lack of time.

If I finish a piece just before the opening of an exhibition I sometimes don’t have enough time to really look at it to establish whether there is anything that needs adjusting. Obviously, if I made sure everything was finished weeks ahead that would not be problem, but I find that some of the best ideas come when I am under serious pressure because of a deadline.  I don’t want to cut out that source of inspiration. When this particular piece came back from the exhibition it was made for, I realised there were some things about it that I wasn’t happy with.

It is a handbag/basket made of two flat circles of cut and assembled oak and ash discs  joined together with  a ‘gusset’ made of little strips of wood. It was really difficult to join the three parts together, physically awkward, and as a consequence it seemed to have a slight twist in the form that I had not intended. Because it didn’t sit well I then added two feet on the base but I really wanted it to be a clean circle without the feet. 

Original version
It also seemed to me that visually it lacked something and usually that ‘something’ for me is a third element or material. Perhaps it’s to do with odd numbers? The original was just wood and copper wire and I realised that what I really wanted to add was coloured plastic. The mix of natural materials and brightly coloured plastic excites me.

My somewhat unconventional technique for judging whether a piece is visually interesting or not is to imagine I am ill in bed and cannot move much. The only thing I have to look at is this piece, for hours, days or maybe weeks.  If I think that I will keep finding new things in it for my eye to rest on and my thoughts to explore  then the piece works for me.

Reworking this piece involved  experimentation with lots of different bits of coloured plastic. In the end, some of the mysterious little plastic wheels that I found on a beach last year were used, along with some strips of plastic cut from detergent bottles, to fill in some of the bigger gaps between the discs.

The sides were completely re-done, far more precisely and without overlaps, and the piece now sits well without feet.  I am much happier with it now and have sent it off today. It will be on show with the work of  other Yeomen of the Worhipful Company of Basketmakers' alongside the Company's own collection of baskets. It will be at the Guildhall Library in the City of London and the details are in the side panel.


  1. Impressive! I like it.
    How thick are the wooden discs? And how heavy is it?

    (I'm trying to 'see' it a little better in my mind's eye).

    1. Thank you Nelly. The discs are about 3mm thick and it is surprisingly lightweight as it is quite big @ 45cm high including handles. It is perfectly functional though you probably wouldn't want to fill it up with root vegetables!

  2. Lois, Speaking of wood disks, I thought you might like this installation by artist Heather Clark Hilliard at 108 Contemporary in Tulsa, OK a few months ago. Hers are indigo dyed which appealed a lot to me.