Companies I cannot recommend….

For some time I have wanted to purchase a pair of US Military “Mickey Mouse” boots.  These were first issued to GI’s in the Korean War and are designed to shield against water and extreme cold.  The boots are constructed of rubber and between two layers of rubber, air is trapped to act as insulation.  A valve on the outside of the boot means you can add or remove air to vary the degree of insulation provided.  In addition the boots are wool lined for increased insulation.

So I was really pleased to find a company in the UK advertising them, brand new for only £9.95 +p&p!  I ordered my a pair of size nines from Surplus and Adventure and 5 days later they arrived.  As soon as I unpacked them it was clear that these boots were not what they were advertised to be.  The label on the back stated “US style” and lacking two layers of rubber, a valve, and wool liner these were in fact just short, lace-up wellington boots with an incredibly heavy steel shank and I would require about 10 thick wool socks to to fill the boot with my foot.  The cost of returning the boots would have been almost as much as the purchase price so I have forwarded them for re-sale else where as a “safety boot!”.  My verdict…..DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!

“Googling” this company brings a lot of results from unhappy customers and in fact my colleague at work ordered some items from them three weeks ago and has not yet received them.  When he contacted them, he was told the items are not in stock and will hopefully be in within a week…..we shall see!!

UPDATE 16/12/09 – The items my colleague ordered have arrived today.

At the beginning of the year I was contacted by a representative from Fusion Productions in the USA, who explained that they were working on a new television series called “Hot on the Trail”, to be aired on the Veria Network in June 2009.

They contacted me because they wanted to use images of some of my crafts made from Cattail/Reed Mace for the Cattail part of the series.  The series sounded really good and after some exchanges of emails I agreed to supply images for the series, in return for a DVD copy of the programme.

Since providing some images I have heard nothing from the company and having emailed the two representatives I had been dealing with to find out if my images were actually used, I have received no response.

I would very grateful if anyone who has seen the series could get in touch with me if any of the images below were featured in the programme.

Willow and Cattail leave baskets

Cattail basket

Cattail leaf duck

Cattail Dolls

Thanks in anticipation.


After writing this post the production company contacted me and informed me that they did not use my images in the series.  My recommendation to others……if people seriously want what you have they will pay for it!!

Starting a rib basket for Mungo

So to answer Mungo’s question in my previous post…..

Take the basket rim


and the central rib (if you wish to make a basket with a handle this would be another Willow hoop) and using a cross lashing secure the two together


Now take another wand and weave in a figure of eight over the rim from front to back


across the front of the rib


and then behind the rim


and over the top and this time go behind the rib


and over the rim from the front


and then across the front of the rib


After you have done this a few times two holes (top and bottom of the figure of eight)  will have been created looking like this from the side view


and into each of these you push the end of another rib


At this stage you should then have five ribs.  Now continue weaving between them all a few times and with the resulting holes created between each rib you push in another six ribs, giving you eleven in total and this is what you will have


Hope that answers your question :>)

Willow basket

I wanted a basket for carrying kindling from my woodshed for my woodburning stove, so I went for a walk and collected some willow wands.


Firstly I twisted two thicker wands into a circle to make a rim for the basket.


I weaved in the basket ribs


I continued weaving between between the rib, filling in the basket


As I filled in the middle of the basket I did not weave to the basket rim.  This creates two opposing handles for carrying the basket when it’s full.


This handle is very different to those on other baskets I have made


My weaving skills are still rather slow but after three hours the basket was completed



And the finished basket is certainly fit for purpose



Basket making at The House of Lords

I spent last Sunday at The House of Lords….that’s John and Val Lords of course!.  In return for their daughter Steff having taught me how to make felt, I agreed to teach them how to make simple baskets like these.


Fortunately Steff has Osier Willow growing in her garden so she cut some and brought them with her.


There had been a frost the previous night and it was still close to freezing when we started making the baskets.  Unfortunately, I suspect due to the frost, the the willow wands kept snapping when we tried to work with it and after some considerable time with only basic frames made, we decided to give up and await warmer weather.

I did smoke some salmon for lunch



which proved to be rather more successful, like this one that I smoked last Christmas


Spring in Lapland – 30th May

Sunny today, with a maximum temperature of 17 degrees.

1 Blue Tit around the cabin this morning, 2 Black-throated Divers on the lake, an Osprey flying around over the lake, 2 Hooded Crows flew over, 1 male Reed Bunting and 1 Common Lizard.

4 Perch in the fish trap this morning.

I washed my clothes this morning and then completed all the painting I wanted to do. I spent the rest of the day making items with the Birch bark.

I cut some of the bark into thin strips

I weaved the strips together to make a reasonable sized basket

I also made a large container, carved another cup

With the remaining pieces of bark, I made a sheath for my knife.