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Lluis Grau exhibits at the International Basketry Fair in Salt and launches his new basketry manual, Girona October 6&7 2012

These charming mini-catalan baskets are ideal presents for your young kids or grandchildren – so they can harvest fruit and veg from the garden or even help mum and dad with the shopping!

Mini baskets include versions similar to the traditional Catalan mushrooming basket, the double “potato peeling” (pelapatas) basket.  But Lluis will also be displaying a full-size bres basket, beloved of collectors but also still made to commission as a traditional basketry cradle.  And unlike other models of cradle, the bres can also be used for storing toys and other things later on.

You can visit Lluis Grau at his stand at the Fira del Cistell en Salt, Gerona, on Saturday 6 y Sunday 7 October 2012.  Girona, the city which has grown to absorb the town of Salt, has great transport links with its international airport and a visit to the fair can make the central point of a fun weekend break away, with typical catalan music, dancing, a display of the scary “human towers” or “castells” and other attractions.   But be warned – there is always a tempting array of baskets on exhbition so bring a large bag with you!

Lluis´ new basketry book – Lluis also hopes to be able to have copies of his new book available for sale at the fair.  The book, co-authored by Anna Champeney and published by the Basketmakers´ Association with financial assistance from the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, is about the very attractive wooden basketry tradition of Los Ancares in Galicia, north Spain.  Another treat for basket lovers, this book includes a practical section on how to make these wonderfully elegant split wood baskets.

  • Where:  The old quarter of Salt, Girona
  • When:  Primer fin de semana de octubre – 6 y 7 de octubre 2012.
  • Products:  Baskets from Spain and internationally
  • Featured basketmaker:  Lluis Grau
  • Web:  www.lluisgrau.com
  • Contact:  T.669 600 620.


Next basketry course with Lluis Grau at his workshop in rural northwest Spain (nearest train station:  Monforte de Lemos)

3 & 4 November – Beginners´ basketry in willow

More information – contact Lluis via email



Donna Wilson´s “Creatures” – Clever textile design with one eye on the market

More inspiration and ideas from Maison et Objet, Paris

Donna Wilson´s quirky knitted creatures

textilesnaturales gets sidetracked from weave by this British designer´s very appealing – but never sentimental – creations.

8 reasons to like them

  1. Quirkyness.
  2. Hybrid craft.  The way that hand-embroidery adds value to machine-knitted objects.
  3. There´s something comfortingly traditional in Donna´s creatures, but they are, at the same time, very contemporary.
  4. Both adults and kids love them.  This makes commercial good sense – adults are often the people who buy toys!  But they could sit quite comfortably in a grown-up room too.
  5. Made in Britain is increasingly being used as a kind of informal quality symbol and one of prestige.  In recession Britain, post-Olympic games, I sense a definite increase in patriotism and so the Buy British tag is particularly good.  At least for UK sales – I live in Spain and am not sure whether people would pay much attention to this though (I noticed, in the price list of another British design company recently in Maison et Objet that the British price list mentions products as being “made in Britain”, wherease the euro price list describes products as being made in the EU).
  6. Sense of humour but without sentimentality – I love the hidden jokes in some of the objects.  Jasper…  Carrot.  Get it?  (as long as you´re in your mid to late 30s or 40s and British that is).
  7. Price – It´s a price that works and Donna´s creatures ARE very popular.  Here in Spain it´s  popular lament that “people won´t pay for craft”.  But professionalism, quality and a sound marketing policy pays off.  Obviously many people do value well-crafted objects today!
Textile Design inspired by the Galician coast in north Spain
Prototype cushion by Anna Champeney Estudio Textil

This prototype draws on the idea of the childhood comfort blanket, the idea of a textile which you can snuggle up to.  More information and images at the textile blog of Anna Champeney.

New weave course offered at Anna Champeney Textile Studio in October

Scarf weaving course  – 24 hour hour intensive 4 -day course – Starts 20 October 2012

In principle the course programme for this year has finished (with the exception of the assistantship course in november – for which one place has just become available due to a late cancellation) but Anna has responded to demand by creating a 4-day scarf weaving course which includes setting up the loom.

So if you fancy an autumn break in the spectacular Ribeira Sacra in north Spain to practice your Spanish and enjoy learning to weave you know where to come!  Email for more information.

Maison & Objet September 2012 – Save Our Skills (Burkina Faso) – Eleanor Pritchard – Idoia Cuesta and others

Maison et Objet is a major trade fair held in Paris twice a year, in September and January.  It´s the place to connect with broad trends and where shops, galleries, designers, and manufacturers go to see, sell, buy textiles – furniture – interiors – worldwide.  There was a strong international presence in the fair and in amongst the hundreds of stands, in the Ateliers de France, section, I discovered stands by a good number of Galician Spanish craft workshops based not far from where I have my studio in north Spain.  Orders are taken at the fair by shops and work is then either sent on from stock, or made-to-order.   But there is more to Maison & Objet than just commerce as the images of the Burkina Faso weaving culture project by Save Our Skills shows.

Fabrics with a very special story from Burkina Faso.  Save Our Skills is an ambitious social project which aims to support traditional weavers and promote sustainable, organic agriculture with the re-introduction of organic cotton as an alternative to Monsanto cotton.

It was a rare priveledge to be introduced to Masa Dembele, master weaver, who was demonstrating with the portable 2 shaft looms that are traditional in his area.  I was amazed to see that the weave structure he was working with was very similar in some ways to the traditional Spanish overshot, (the pattern yarn “floats” over the surface of the fabric and the fabric is given stability with a ground weave in tabby).  But the designs are very different.  Those from Burkina Faso are more complex and not necessarily symmetrical because the weave method is more manually-controlled.

The loss of traditional regional weaving skills is, ironically, as acute in north Spain as it is in Burkina Faso, and the search for new ways forward is as difficult in Europe as it is in Africa.  There is also the added difficulty that export is not as obvious a solution:  wages and the cost of living in Spain are of course European, so it is even more difficult to make manual skills pay through the sale of work.   In Burkina Faso, traditional organic cotton cultivation has almost disappeared – and in Galicia, north Spain, it is the same with linen.   Overshot weaving in Galicia, north Spain, known as repaso nuevo, used traditionally for woven coverlets, has also become obsolete and there are virtually no traditional weavers left – and few younger weavers who have learned from them.

Thank you to Karin, Désiré and Denzel of Save Our Skills and the British European Design Group.  And of course anakiéh to Masa and Désiré.


Eleanor Pritchard´s elegantly-simple blankets are 100% wool and woven in Wales and are particular favourites of mine.   Eleanor is an accomplished weaver and designer.  She designs on a dobby loom in her studio and the textiles are woven by machine looms.