Willow Screens for Shapwick

Traditional materials incorporated on reserve

Willow ScreensWillow from the reserve itself has been used to make screening for Shapwick Moor. The completion of a six foot high screen, using tall uprights that volunteers cut from willows on the site, was the culmination of three training sessions to learn the ancient craft.

The large screen, with its two wildlife viewing holes, looks over areas of the reserve which attract winter waders.

“Making things from willow is a very old tradition and an economical use of an available natural material,” said Trust chairman Barbara Handley.

It was her idea that she and others should learn how to make screens – and eventually even hides – for the reserve.

Their tutor, craftsman Sarah Ayling, explained not only how to weave willow but also the uses of the different types. A group of about 10 volunteers, drawn particularly from the Trust’s very active local groups in the South West, took part in the first workshop in Shapwick village hall on a bitterly cold Sunday in November.

“Even the willow whips and branches were stiff and brittle with ice,” Barbara recalled. “Our next session was in warm April sunshine, making small screens on the reserve.”

It was at the third workshop in July that the much larger screen was created, interweaving the local willow uprights with the supple withies that Sarah brought with her.

“The long-term aims is to continue using these new-found skills to make whatever we want for the reserve,” said Barbara.

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