J & J In the UK - Part Three - Melanie Bastier

Some of the most memorable days during our trip to the UK earlier this summer were spent with exceptional willow weaver Mel Bastier of Out to Learn Willow. Mel is an extremely creative and talented weaver who has made it her mission to spread the word about willow throughout her home country of Wales. Living willow, basketry, willow sculpture, hurdles, willow structures and coffins keep her busy all year. She holds classes and workshops for private groups, schools and community organizations. Mel has been featured in magazines and blogs and she has worked on some high profile projects including the Coronation Arches, six massive willow arches forming a 30ft walkway marking each of the six decades the Queen has remained on the throne.

Mel on top of one of the arches.

Mel on top of one of the arches.

The Coronation Arches installed outside Windsor Castle.

The Coronation Arches installed outside Windsor Castle.

Edward Glew of Blithfield Willowcrafts worked with Mel on the arches. We spent three days with Eddie in his workshop in Rugeley, Staffordshire. Eddie is a great teacher and has a huge talent for weaving. We learned so much with him in our three days and enjoyed his posh biscuits too! 

Edward Glew of Blithfield Willowcrafts worked with Mel on the arches. We spent three days with Eddie in his workshop in Rugeley, Staffordshire. Eddie is a great teacher and has a huge talent for weaving. We learned so much with him in our three days and enjoyed his posh biscuits too! 

Mel makes many sculptures of dried and living willow for children's playgrounds and gardens. 

Mel makes many sculptures of dried and living willow for children's playgrounds and gardens. 

Some of Mel's willow sculpture. 

Some of Mel's willow sculpture. 

A garden butterfly sculpture. 

A garden butterfly sculpture. 

Gorgeous colours and textures.

Gorgeous colours and textures.

Dried willow basketry.

Dried willow basketry.

Our classes with Mel were held at her home in Ogmore by Sea, with beautiful views of the ocean right outside her door. We felt immediately at home with Mel and her family were wonderful hosts for the week. 

Lunch on Mel's terrace. 

Lunch on Mel's terrace. 

During our BIG week of weaving with Mel, we created a full size willow coffin. It took a lot of weaving from the two of us and massive patience from Mel to complete this project in 4 1/2 days. We are really pleased with the result and hope to visit with Mel again, maybe willow sculpture next time, eh Mel? 

During our BIG week of weaving with Mel, we created a full size willow coffin. It took a lot of weaving from the two of us and massive patience from Mel to complete this project in 4 1/2 days. We are really pleased with the result and hope to visit with Mel again, maybe willow sculpture next time, eh Mel?