top of page

Work with Willow

a357300002fc65916a848818d9f65abf.jpg

A Plant for the Times

Our ancestors wove baskets. Basketmaking is one of the original ways humans around the world constructed the containers needed for every day use throughout history. And generally speaking, the way we weave willow today is the same way people wove thousands of years ago. This is because willow work has never been machinized, materials are grown or gathered straight from the earth, and few tools are needed for construction.

As an agricultural endeavor, willow is an excellent choice of perennial crop to add to farm, homestead, urban garden, or landscaping project for a number of reasons. It is a keystone species in the many places it grows as a native, supporting life of a myriad of plant, animal, and insect companions. It helps drain and evaporate flood waters, removes heavy metals and other pollutants from soil and thus watersheds, and combats erosion of topsoil.

 

Also, and arguably most importantly, willow is a wildly understated powerhouse crop for carbon sequestration. Because of the sheer amount of woodacious material - aka carbon - even a small coppice produces when cut back each year, willow deserves a front and center spotlight in the regenerative farming and carbon sequestration research fields. 

 

As climate chaos increases around the world, we must have all hands on deck in every level of the fight to mitigate and minimize the harms happening to humans and nonhumans alike - especially those who are most vulnerable to its impacts. For those of us with access to even a small amount of land, applying agricultural practices that get carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil - and in this case, into baskets and other functional crafts - is both a graspable and essential way to engage in climate activism. 

At the same time, in a world overrun with earth-killing plastics and impossibly fragile global supply chains, I believe it is essential we return to & reinvent sustainable traditional crafts in order to reduce our reliance on mass-produced fossil fuel-dependent goods whose production & waste streams endanger life on earth. Because this great need is naturally coalescing with a time in history when people around the world are longing to reconnect with the land, with old ways of living with the earth, and craft better futures for all, many eager new willow weavers are appearing at this moment all over the map. 

 

And so, as a response to all of the above, I want you to envision with me a full scale willow revival in the bioregions this incredible plant teacher loves to grow. Picture every town and city filling its unused lawn or empty land sites not filled with perennial food crops with willow grows that support a local economy of basketmakers providing the containers needed by the immediate local community. Picture the beautiful rainbow of bark lighting up our public spaces, bringing color and cheer and life to our landscapes.

 

This is why I grow willow, why I weave, why I choose to teach this craft despite the long hours and hard work and difficulty to make a living. We are not just weaving baskets when we pick up the rod and the knife - we are weaving a new world with pieces of the old one, paving a way for a more imaginable future for those to whom we will be the weaving ancestors.

Anchor 1
IMG_9410.JPG

Work with Anni 1-on-1

one on one

Starting Spring 2023, I am thrilled to be able to offer one-on-one lessons and mini apprenticeships to those looking to begin their journeys as willow weavers at Red Tail Farm in Bloomingdale Wisconsin.

I know from experience that finding willing and quality instruction in beginner willow basketry is exceptionally difficult. This is why, though I am far from an expert in the vast, multidimensional, and ancient craft of willow basketry, I prioritize sharing this craft with others as one way of being a working craftsperson. Also, as a neurodivergent and hands-on learner, I am skilled at accommodating multiple learning styles as new folks begin to cultivate this challenging and rewarding new skill. I especially loves holding space for queer, trans, and other folks who have traditionally been more excluded from folk / traditional skills spaces, as well as learners who are interested in cultivating long-term, reciprocal, well-tended relationship with the willows.

 

Students taking lessons will receive high quality individual instruction and can expect to complete beautiful basketry work they will be proud of, as well as the skills to continue with the craft on their own. There are several options available for both local and further flung students, and you can view packages and apply below. I will get back to applicants via email when availability opens and next steps can be taken.

 

If you are applying from outside the midwest, I may see if you're interested in being connected with a more local teacher if there are any near you, though I'm open to accepting students from anywhere.

 

Work trade and partial work trade are seasonally available in a limited capacity for all learning options, which are all offered on a sliding scale. As a new farm, the work there is to plug into literally never ends!

If you would rather attend a group class experience, check out the Basket Camp I host with my friend and fellow basketmaker Zac Fitipaldi! 

Packages for Local Students

 2-Day Beginner Immersion - Sliding Scale $200 - $350

2 days is the minimum study time for beginner-level local students. In 2-day immersions, students will commute daily to Anni's workshop and should be prepared to work each day for two full days in a row from from 9 AM - 5 PM. Depending on student skill level, the student can expect to complete at least one round-based stake and strand basket, and have the basic skills to be able to continue study on their own. 14 hours of instruction, willow, and a materials packet for continued learning are included.

 

3-Day Beginner Immersion - Sliding Scale $300 - $425

The 3 day immersion is for students who want to take their time weaving their first basket(s) or get a little more thorough in building these skills for the first time. Students will commute to Anni's workshop and should block off 3 full days for working each day 10 AM - 5 PM. Depending on student skill level, students will complete multiple bases, potentially multiple round-based stake and strand baskets, get to experiment with handle-making and strapping, and feel confident continuing study on their on. Students will also be introduced to the art of growing and coppicing willow and have the option of coppicing their own willow for their weaving projects, an essential skill to learn for continued practice. 18 hours of instruction, willow, optional coppicing, and materials for continued learning are included.

Local Apprenticeship

If you're looking for longer term and/or ongoing instruction that will support you in solidifying your beginner round-base skills, move you on to more complex techniques like oval base / pack baskets, and support in establishing a willow garden of your own so you can continue weaving at home, you are welcome to apply for the local apprenticeship. All beginner-level apprenticeships must start with a 2-day immersion, so if you're curious about apprenticeship, you can start by booking a 2-day to begin the process of exploring your relationship to the willows. If you'd like to continue study after your beginner session, we can work out an arrangement that works for everyone and suits your learning goals and needs. Generally speaking, apprentice blocks will be at least 2 full days at a time (10-5) and cost per day is around $120.

Packages for Visiting Students

 2-Day Beginner Immersion & Farm Stay - Sliding Scale $300 - $450

2 days is the minimum study time for beginner-level students. In 2-day immersions, students should be prepared to work each day for two full days in a row from from 9 AM - 5 PM. Depending on student skill level, the student can expect to complete at least one round-based stake and strand basket, and have the basic skills to be able to continue study on their own. The visiting price includes on-farm stay for two nights during your learning block. You have the option of staying in a bell tent, in the willow studio, or in a personal camp tent on the land while visiting. If you choose to stay elsewhere and commute to the farm, you can follow the local pricing for 2 days of learning. 

3-Day Immersion & Farm Stay - Sliding Scale $475-$600

The 3 day immersion is for students who want to take their time weaving their first ever basket(s) or get a little more thorough education while building these skills for the first time. Students should block off 3 full days for working each day 10 AM - 5 PM. Depending on student skill level, students will complete multiple bases, potentially multiple round-based stake and strand baskets, get to experiment with handle-making and strapping, and feel confident continuing study on their on. Students will also be introduced to the art of growing and coppicing willow and have the option of coppicing their own willow for their weaving projects, an essential skill to learn for continued practice. The visiting price includes on-farm stay for three nights during your learning block. You have the option of staying in a bell tent, in the willow studio, or in a personal camp tent on the land while visiting. If you choose to stay elsewhere and commute to the farm, you can follow the local pricing for 3 days of learning.

Mini-Apprenticeship and Farm Stay

If you're looking for longer term and/or ongoing instruction that will support you in solidifying your beginner round-base skills, move you on to more complex techniques like oval base / pack baskets, and support in establishing a willow garden of your own so you can continue weaving throughout your life, you are welcome to apply for a mini apprenticeship. Visiting apprentices are invited to come to the farm for 5 days or more of immersive learning - beginner into intermediate willow basketry - and are invited to help shape a learning curriculum that suits their individual learning goals and needs. In the mini apprenticeship, you will work one on one with Anni for 5 full days - or more if you choose and we can accommodate that - and will have the option to stay at Red Tail Farm on the beautiful West Fork of the Kickapoo River in a cozy abode for the duration of your stay. The mini-apprenticeship for visiting students is application based, as there are only so many slots for these throughout the year. 

Work Trade

Anchor 2

As mentioned above, limited work trade spots are available to cover full and partial tuition for all of the learning options available. To give you an idea, most people who apply to learn apply for a work trade spot.

 

Work trades are valued at the full tuition level of each learning tier, and work traders are compensated $15 / work trade hour. So, a full work trade for the 2-day local learning lessons would be equivalent to around 23 hours. A half trade, around 11 hours. To qualify for a work trade position, learners must:

1. Be available during timeframes in which work projects are happening and help is needed 

2. Be able-bodied and able to work hard outdoors for long hours in a variety of weather situations

3. Have some prior farm or other labor experience

Some possible trade activities one could expect are: prepping willow and other garden beds for planting, planting and harvesting willow, sorting willow, setting up drip irrigation and other water systems, helping with other misc farm projects like building projects, making trails, workshop maintenance, clearing brush, planting trees, etc.

 

If you are a skilled laborer and want to trade for skilled craftsperson or specialized farm work, please reach out! 

If you want to propose a trade of goods for lessons, some acceptable trades are: home-raised meat, perennial plants / fruit and nut trees, hands-on bodywork, skilled crafts like furniture, bark or brain tanned leather, etc., and potentially 2 or 3D art in limited capacity.

For transparency, trades I almost never accept are: herbal wares, vegetables or veggie CSA shares, coaching or non-hands-on wellness offerings, non-hands-on bodywork, canned goods.

Some current farm needs that would be at the top of my list for trading for handmade or used goods or skilled labor for at the moment are: 

- Wooden floating shelving

- Tractor work for building terraces

- An outhouse

- Ceramic dishware for the house

- Electric fencing

- Help with toilet installation 

- Window installation in existing structures

- Chicken coop

- Wooden floor refinishing

- A drying shed

- Greenhouse

- Stone steps

IMG_3190.jpg
bottom of page