Willow chair seating

Pickled oak and white willow chairI wanted to learn how to weave the willow seat that I had found on the chairs made by David Drew. They had aged beautifully during their time in the Castle Drogo cafe and worn extremely well so I knew it was a perfect material.

In another nice turn to this story, shortly after moving to Cumbria, I met basketmaker Phil Bradley through mutual friends. Phil had first learned his basketmaking from David Drew and was interested in the seating himself so I lent him my chair to examine and organised for myself and Paul Girling, another green wood chairmaker, to go up to Phil’s workshop to learn to weave them together.

Phil Bradley examines the willow chair seatWe had a fantastic weekend at Phil’s workshop in Cockermouth talking about chair design, basketmaking and craft in general while he took us through the steps of weaving the seat with white willow.

It was a learning experience for him too and, though he had worked out the main elements of the seat, there were certain points that we only figured out as we did them. Several times Phil was impressed with how David had designed the seat to give it strength and comfort while making the weaving process efficient.

The finished seat is neat and has a clean look with just enough decoration given by the waling weave at  front and back which also gives the seat the strength it needs. The white of the willow contrast and complements brilliantly the black of the pickled oak and gives the a really modern look bringing the story very much into the present.

weaving the willow seat Original David Drew and Pickled Oak chairs


About Steve Tomlin

I am a greenwood worker and scythe tutor. I carve spoons, bowls and other products from locally sourced greenwood. During the summer I teach scything around the UK.
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2 Responses to Willow chair seating

  1. jarrod says:

    nice story and chairs. I love the idea of willow seats.

  2. Richard Law says:

    This type of seating sounds rather unique do you know of other examples? I don’t recall ever seeing any, but it seems very practical. Excellent story Steve!

    Co-incidentally I found Katherine Lewis, the Washington (state) weaver who made the linen basket we bought for my son and his wife who live in Brooklyn, met David Drew on a European trip including the 2006 Basketmakers’ Association’s Spring Course at York! Small world.

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