Monday, 11 January 2016

A Living Willow Throne

I always seem to be talking about the weather lately. I'm not apologising, as it's important when you live off the land.
Today's weather was a pleasant surprise. More heavy overnight rain kept me off the soil again, but the day started dry and almost threatened to be one of those lovely, crisp sunny winter days I love so much.
Plans to go into town (a rare occurrence) were abandoned in favour of another foray into the world of living willow. This time, it was to be a chair.

I'd already selected some thick stems for the chair uprights which had been stored with their butt ends in water, as these were to be planted into the ground allowing the chair to come to life in the spring and begin to grow organically.
I'd also thrown some branches to the sheep to strip the bark. We'd use these for the non-living struts and for the seat.

With the wood for the project selected, we got to measuring, sawing and lopping.


Then some very rudimentary woodwork and we quickly had something beginning to resemble a chair. It took us some time to select a site for the chair and in the end we settled for a spot up on Weasel Ridge, next to the buddleias and overlooking the whole veg plot - a lovely place to sit and admire the sunset with a bottle of beer to ease the aching muscles after a long day's gardening.

 






I dug a hole about a foot deep and 'planted' the chair.













Next for the really fancy bits - living arms made by inserting long cuttings into the ground and bending them round the frame into shape. Next a similar process to form the back of the chair, with a little baling twine to hold everything in place. I'll replace this with willow ties. Hopefully, as the cuttings root and grow, they will graft together and will no longer need to be tied.



I left the arms unlopped and I was thankful I did, as it became apparent that I could bend them back round to join the chair back. This is what I love about working with living wood - the design is organic and grows out of the wood itself. In fact, once I'd finished I wished I'd left the uprights longer too.
Having said that, though, new shoots will sprout from all the living parts of my throne, which is the really exciting thing. For these can be either lopped off to keep the chair neat and tidy or allowed to grow and be trained into new shapes and patterns.



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