twist, twine, loop

More from the summer school with Tim Johnson.

Working mainly with rush, combed rush, esparto grass and assorted other bits and pieces


west dean summer school

Not long back from a summer school at West Dean in Sussex, with the inspirational Tim Johnson, artist and basket maker.You can read more about Tim and see his work on his website

The course was called ‘fibre art and basketry’ and was an opportunity to learn new techniques for making and using string. So I have now mastered the Danish ‘palm rolling’ technique, alongside Scottish twisting and a leg rolling method used in Papua New Guinea, amongst other places…

The sun shone, the gardens were in full flower, and it was a great week spent exploring new materials and techniques with a group of people all similarly entranced by making string!

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basket from combed rush using looping method
west dean house
West Dean college



3000 year old rope

The archeological site at Must Farm has found a piece of rope, over 3000 years old. The material it is made of is as yet unknown.

This is a very rough working shot but we wanted to share our very exciting start to the day. We’ve found that one of our large oak causeway posts that pre-date the settlement still has a preserved section of rope attached. It is in surprisingly good condition given that it probably dates from between 1290 – 1250BC! The rope is tied around the post roughly halfway down its length, suggesting it was still attached when the post was driven into the sediment. We are hoping that it might be threaded through a carved hole on the side we have yet to excavate.

see more here:

summer solstice

2016-06-12 14.37.13A glimpse of what I have been up to over winter, building a shelter in the woods. Mainly willow and birch, with some honeysuckle encouraged to join in. Perfectly orientated for watching the sunset.

Bronze age textile fragments

Very exciting evidence from excavations at Must Farm, near Peterborough:

During the 2006 evaluation of the site we discovered several pieces including one particularly large fragment that had been folded. After these were examined by specialists it emerged that they were made from plant fibres, most likely from lime trees. This was especially surprising as there is a fairly common assumption that most archaeological textiles would have been made using animal fibres, such as wool.

for more info about this and  additional textile finds go to

stringmaker’s dream

At the end of Septemebr I stripped lime bark from small branches and left them soaking in the stream. This softened them enough to release the bast fibres just under the outer layer of bark. After about 4 weeks of fairly mild weather they were ready to separate. after drying in the kitchen they  are now stored and ready for use. They are lovely to work with, very smooth, long and strong, so suitable for making very fine string.

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string making continues

What a delight to be back in Applecross at the weekend. Scotland was looking especially gorgeous, with stunning autumn colours shining through. Huge thanks to Lesley Kilbride for inviting me to run a string making workshop and organising the event. It was lovely to meet a whole bunch of new string makers who took part, gathering round a fire in the replica Iron Age roundhouse.

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assorted string samples
Applecross roundhouse