Cassette tape, sleepy mice and willow weaving by Julie Turner

I have been very lucky recently to attend a creative workshop as part of my 50th birthday celebrations. I attended a brilliant basket making course with the fabulous tutor Joe of Creative With Nature in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. Part of the appeal to me of this particular course was the fact that we would be foraging for the materials to make the basket from a local beauty spot. Well it was amazing! The colours and materials we foraged were beautiful: hazel, dogwood, bramble, holly, rubus, birch and ivy were collected and several of them used. The basket I made reminds me of a foraging basket which has two sides and I could imagine the garden produce nestled into the sides. A nest without even planning it! The colours are vibrant now but may fade or change over time.

Joe gave me some willow to finish off the basket at home and I had a small amount left so decided to create a small nest with it. Following the instructions I created the round frame, one for the opening/rim and one for the handle/bottom, lashed them together and inserted the side pieces to complete the frame. Weaving the willow through the frame completes the basket/nest. I had intended to cut off the handle to create an open basket but as I had finished it and put it on the table it balanced perfectly on the extended willow and I decided to leave it as it was. A happy accident!

Another nest I have created was for a sleepy mouse! Don’t worry not a real one, a felted one. As part of my business I run creative woolly workshops for people and recently ran a needle felt a sleepy mouse workshop. Needle felting involves using a barbed needle to manipulate wool fibres so they attach to each other by the tiny scales on each fibre to make a dense sculpted 3D sculpture or 2D picture. Everyone made a mouse nest for their sleepy mouse too.

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The last nest I made included a ‘blast from the past’ in the form of a cassette tape. Do you know people of a certain age still say ‘tape that programme, ‘young uns’ don’t know what we mean. For the ‘young uns’ it means record that programme. This old cassette tape includes music recorded for me from a French friend during a Yorkshire/Lille exchange during summer 1982 it included music that I wasn’t too keen on and never really listened to it, so I was quite happy to destroy it for the sake of this project.

I decided to crochet this nest. Crochet consists of a series of loops in a chain which in turn are interjoined to create the desired article. A crochet hook is used to create said loops. This was much harder than I anticipated as the tape was tightening too much on the hook making it hard to ensure the smooth sliding through of the loops to create the pattern required. Needless to say this nest ended up quite small but cute and dainty. I am now on the lookout for a VHS tape to destroy for the good of this project as all the ones I have kept are precious including our wedding video from 1988 – even though we don’t have a VHS recorder to watch them on!

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