AboutCombining Art & Education since 1970's
A Bit of History
Crafts Mid Wales is situated in the beautiful upland area of Montgomeryshire, Mid-Wales, and is operated by Beryl Smith, an accomplished and experienced artisan Basketmaker, Weaver and Living Willow Sculptor.
I hand weave lovely traditional and frame baskets, and also garden products, from willow and hedgerow materials, using traditional basketmaking techniques.
I also make beautiful handwoven fabrics using a hand-operated floor loom. I create exquisite fine handwoven scarves from silk and wool using natural dyes, such as indigo, cochineal and onion skins, applying the ancient technique of Ikat (tie-dyed warp) to create the designs.
Another product I have developed is the Fleece Mat or Rug. This floor mat is made from raw sheep’s fleece which is contained within a linen warp, using the Navajo technique of weaving. These mats are very thick and lovely to the touch, especially under your feet! And wonderful for lying on in front of the fire in mid-winter too!! They also make fantastic sleeping mattresses.
Living Willow Sculpture is a winter occupation, usually done between the months of November and April when the willow is dormant. I have been creating Living Willow Structures since 2000 in schools, environmental centres and on community projects, private commissions, stately homes, the National Trust etc. facilitating, building and leading projects and courses.
My interest in spinning and weaving began whilst expecting my first child in 1974 when I learned to spin and weave at ‘The Guild House’, Stanton, in Gloucestershire, from Mary Osbourne, its founder.
For many years I would spin natural fleece into yarn, either using the natural colours, or I would natural dye the yarn and knit jumpers and produce hand-woven rugs and furnishings for the family and home whilst bringing up my family. I would also sell hand-spun, hand-knitted jumpers in my shop, ‘The Spinning Wheel’, in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
It was whilst running the shop that my fascination for old baskets developed and after moving to Mid-Wales in 1983 I attended courses run by Sheila Wynter in both basket making and rush work.
I have continued to develop my basket making skills and product range using traditional basket making techniques to include log baskets, shopping baskets, gathering baskets, vegetable and fruit baskets, general storage baskets, trugs, etc. I also make willow plant supports and garden products.