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The Withy pot barnacles are multiplying!

Just a quick recap! In my preivious post Storylines and I gathered a group of withy pot makers from around the South West to talk all things withy pots and also create 'withy pot barnacles' to include in a growing art installation which will be showcased at our Withy Lore exhibition next year!

Since then we have held our second withy pot barnacle workshop at Royal Cornwall Museum. This time we welcomed two withy pot makers and three young people to work together to make withy pot barnacles. Creating an opportunity to pass on skills and knowledge and to include their pieces in the growing installation.

Who took part

Withy pot maker Tom Chambers from Porthleven and Aaron Grigg from Mevagissey arrived kitted up with withy pot stands, willow and tools. They were joined by three local young participants, Megan, Rupert and Logan, all eager to try their hands at withy pot making.

Withy pot barnacle making begins

Rupert, Logan and Megan were all allocated a withy pot maker and it wasn't long before willow was being cut, bent and woven into shape.

When it was time to bend the willow down, the long withies met with the floor appearing to me a little like sea creatures with long tentacles.

They began weaving / binding around the frame. This process determines the withy pots shape and different characteristics could already be seen.

Once the three rows of binding were complete it was time for the withy pot barnacles to be lifted from the pot stands to begin work on the base. Traditionally a withy pot bottom would be filled in with weaving, but we wanted ours to only have a border to hold its shape.

Aaron showed them all how to weave the long willow ends into a tight, strong and beautiful border. Last step was to trim back any lose ends and tada! their withy pot barancles were complete!

Next steps for Megan, Logan and Rupert

Megan has fallen in love with the craft and is making plans with Tom Chambers and Aaron Grigg to make a pot stand of her own so she can continue to practise!

Rupert and his father plan to practise with Tom Chambers.

Logan is also planning to continue learning and eventually make withy pots during the winter months using willow grown on a willow farm as part of his families business.

This isn't the only endangered craft Logan is involved in, during the other seasons of the year he will be found Cornish hedging! He began learning the craft when taking part in Heritage Crafts Association Pre-apprenticeship project in the spring of 2023 and has since then continued training with Cornwall Rural Education and Skills Trust (CREST). He is now on track to soon become a fully fledged Cornish hedger!

Thank you

Thank you to Tom, Aaron, Rupert, Megan and Logan for taking part and making such wonderful withy pot barnacles.

Thank you to Tristan for volunteering to record the activities ! we hope to include your work in the exhibition.

... to withy pot makers Stephen, from St Michael's Mount and Pete from Gorran Haven for popping in and sharing your stories... To artist in resident at Salt Cellar Workshops, Suzanne for being a friendly face and sharing your enthusiasm... To Thaila and Eve from Plymouth University, for joining us and sharing with us the amazing project you are involved in with withy pot maker Jof Hicks. Studying the biological interactions of withy pots on lobsters and the by-catch which is also caught by comparing this to plastic inkwell pot caught individuals.

Thank you to Royal Cornall Museum for kindly letting us use your workshop room.

Thank you to our funders for making this possible:

Invitation to make a barnacle

We want to include as many pots and styles as possible in this installation, so are now inviting pot makers to contribute ‘barnacles’. We won’t need these until early 2025, so expect most of them to be made next winter. We’ve already been bowled over by people’s generosity and willingness to contribute and are excited to see the installation grow. If you’re able to contribute then please do get in touch

Oral histories

We are on the look out for a small number of withy pot makers to record. If you would like to take part or might know someone who is please contact Sarah -

Thank you for reading :) !


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