Weaving with willow
The art of making baskets from different natural materials is thousands of years old and has always played an important role in our everyday lives. The baskets, which are braided and sewn from willow, straw and split branches, are used to carry and store a range of items. Wickerwork is an important cottage industry in many parts of Austria, and in south eastern Styria, a wealth of different types of basket weaving are practised. Basket weaving is being revived in Vulkanland in Styria thanks to Karl Lenz and Prof. Hans Schleich, and it is therefore being given the appropriate recognition. In 1998, an initiative by the Straden region, the European Roller Association and the nature conservation organisation EURONATUR, undertook a survey of basket wicker stocks and the farmers that cultivate them as a raw material for wickerwork. The basket maker and broom maker associations emerged from this initiative. Their aim is to ensure that this ancient craft survives and that weaving techniques are passed on. Basket makers are in demand all year round and are an essential part of traditional festivals and craft markets. Willow is also very versatile – it can be made into baskets, bowls, boxes, screens for terraces, living fences and decorations for the house or garden. Courses offer the opportunity to learn this handicraft in Vulkanland.