Thanks to the Welsh Basket Makers South Wales group for sending me as their representative to The Epic Awards in Derry. All travel arrangements were taken care of by my traveling companion from Voluntary Arts Dan Carpenter, so all I had to do was turn up. A flight and a coach journey followed.

We were meeted and greeted by the Voluntary Arts team, fed and watered then off to the Verbal Arts Centre. I have to say I really had no idea what to expect, only that I would have to give a short explanation about our Project – The Exhibition in the National Botanic Garden for the Basketmakers Association Summer meeting

Firstly I am introduced to Irene who won the English Award for Quilts 4 London, Sarah from Scotland and her Barra Bunting Project and the Irish winner Feargal who with others have reinstated the St.Patrick’s Day Festival in Fermanagh. The room began to fill up with dignitaries, the mayor of Derry, The Minister, local MP and many other enthusiastic and interested parties. I felt very humbled that our passion for weaving willow was receiving so much appreciation and recognition.

The prize giving followed and I waved a willow wand and enthusiastically spoke about our groups display and all the things we have done since we started. Robin who is part of Voluntary arts amusingly remarked he liked the fact that the eating of cake seemed important to all the winning entries.

So the evening continued I met lots of interesting folk. Eventually the Voluntary Arts crew dragged me off to a bar to share their evening of music and alcohol. As I did not wish to offend fellow celts I joined in the fun. The down side was I had to be on the coach at 7.00am the next morning for the 2hr ride back to Belfast to fly home.

A short visit but very enjoyable, and I certainly would like to go back to Derry as it is the Capital of Culture this year.

Liz Stone

You can see Liz being interviewed about her experience here




Welsh winners of the Epic Awards 2013

In November 2012 our group entered the EPIC Awards (National Awards for voluntary and amateur arts). The Epic Awards are an initiative of Voluntary Arts, the national development agency for arts participation. Voluntary Arts offers information, advice, training and development opportunities to those in the voluntary or amateur arts sector, from small local groups to large national organisations.

Our entry representing Wales was for our display at the BA Summer Meeting at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in June last year. Sarah L and Deb did a fantastic job of writing the application which was sent off with several photos of the display. Much to everyone’s delight we won and on Thursday 31 January Liz Stone kindly represented our group and went to collect the award at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Londonderry. Liz did a grand job and gave a wonderful speech which included a waving of a lovely willow star! She was later interviewed on the Running Your Group Weekly webcast, you can see her in action here.


The award received acclaim from Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Welsh Government:

“The work of Voluntary Arts and here in Wales, Voluntary Arts Wales, in supporting and encouraging the voluntary art sector is fully acknowledged. They are to be commended in bringing forward the Epic awards to recognise the work and commitment of this sector. I am delighted that the Welsh winner this year is Welsh Basketmakers South Wales Group. It is encouraging that in our modern world, with all its digital technology, there is not only a place for traditional arts and crafts, but that the achievements of the group have been recognised. Not only are they producing work of the highest quality, they are also ensuring that this ancient craft and artform continues, something that we should all celebrate.”

Our prize was £200 cash, £250 worth of gift vouchers to to spend at GreatArt, a year’s subscription to www.runningyourgroup.org, and membership of Arts Development UK. Can’t wait to get spending!

IMG_6627Practicing borders

February’s meeting focussed on practicing borders and with Sarah’s brilliant holed boards (I want one) we were able to split into groups and got several borders on the go at the same time.

Some people chose in front of three behind one, in front of four behind two and Sarah Hatton had to go the whole hog and with Jill did in front of three behind one with a follow on trac border! It was really interesting to see the different borders and how they would work on a particular basket.

IMG_6624 IMG_6626 IMG_6629






We also had some news from Liz about her trip to the Epic Awards for voluntary arts in Derry to collect our fantastic award for our display at the BA Summer meeting last June – more news to come.

Thanks to everyone who bought cake, Les’s biscuits were a treat, Christine’s Teisen Lap was divine and a special mention must go to Sarah Hatton who made her very first chocolate cake and managed not to poison anyone.




We will have our next meeting on Monday Jan 28th 7 – 9 pm in Colwinston Village Hall, see the map here.

This time we will be making gypsy flowers, which will be good for our knife skills. If you have an appropriate knife please bring it along, along with a piece of leather or similar to protect your knee. We will have some knives available if you don’t have one.

If you have not seen it yet, check out our new Facebook Page (Thanks Mel). Why not take a look and may be you will LIKE it.

In the lead up to Christmas, the Cowbridge Farmers’ Market goes to town with additional stalls providing lovely festive fayre and presents.  The atmosphere is fabulous and the market is well worth a visit for you to stock up on goodies and gifts.

Our group will be having a stall on 1st and 15th December and we are aiming to sell all things willow – baskets, stars, Christmas tree sculptures, hearts etc as well as show casing the work of group members.

If you would like to get involved either helping out or if you have items to sell, please contact Deb Hill on deb@thehillys.plus.com or come along to our next meeting on Nov 26th when we will be collecting items for the stall, sorting out product pricing and organising final arrangements of who is going to help on the stall.

And if you’re not able to get involved why not come along and enjoy a lovely mooch around the market – it’s just the thing to get you into the swing of Christmas!

The last two meetings have been very busy with lot of people, new faces and old and lots of cake!


We spent our September meeting catching up after the summer break, sharing our memories of the BA Summer meeting at the national Botanic Gardens and agreeing on a programme for this coming year. It is so exciting to see such enthusiasm among our members.

Sarah Lart and Jill David had been on Roy Youdale’s course at Westhope to learn to make a square basket with oval corners. The course was of course very well taught and sarah brought along her basket which was  beautiful. This is the Basketmaker’s Association Autumn course, Westhope college is in Shropshire and is a gorgeous location to stay, highly recommended.

Deb Hill had visitied Issigeac in France for the annual basketmaker’s festival in July and had an inspiring  time. She put together a slide show of some of the photographs she had taken, we were all riveted by the fabulous baskets and scenery.  Deb brought also brought some delicate Perigord baskets back with her made from scented Flanders Red willow.  So gorgeous, we absolutely treasure ours, thanks Deb.


This meeting was planned to give people time to finish off all those projects which we just never get round to finishing.  6 people had baskets from Jenny Crisp’s course in October to finish.  It was so impressive  that everyone got so far with such big, oval laundry baskets.  More photos of this course are on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Out-to-Learn-Willow/164805133555337?ref=hl), including a video of Jenny putting down her famous wide border.

Beginners learned how to weave a small round basket base with the help of more experienced members of the group.

Two lovely evenings with lots of cake, good friends and plenty of basketmaking, what more could you ask for?!

Here is the programme for the next few months:

26th November – Simple Christmas Decorations, bring one to show and copy
10th December – Christmas Party
28th January – Gipsy Flowers
February – Daytime meeting, Living Willow in community garden near Llandow
Everyone Welcome!

The next meeting of the South Wales basketmakers group will be on Monday 24 September 7-9pm in the Village Hall in Colwinston. A fun and friendly evening of tea, coffee, chat, willowing and of course… CAKE! Can’t wait to see everyone again, it’s been so long…