The Land of Oak & Iron

Meet the Makers

sat29aug10:00 AMsat4:00 PMMeet the MakersRuth Thompson & Liz Beech - Willow Artists

Event Details

Land of Oak & Iron are excited to host the next of our new ‘Meet the Maker events at the Heritage Centre.

Come and meet willow artists Ruth Thompson and Liz Beech in the gazebo outside the Heritage Centre, just drop by anytime between 10am and 4pm to say hello.

Ruth and Liz will be available to chat about working with willow – you can also purchase their hand-made baskets, sculptures and other willow creations, why not commission them to make you something special and bespoke.

Liz Beech:  “Growing up I well remember being ‘stung’ by flying willow whips as my basket-maker dad would be weaving a willow baby rattle for the latest addition to our extended family – some distant cousin had become a proud new parent. I would sit, chat and duck the whips, while he wove away. I loved watching this making process going on.

I took this spirit of making with me when I went to art school. I carried on creating things, but not necessarily using willow. I was interested in experimenting, combining natural materials alongside more conventional materials to create artworks.  I then moved up to the North East and was drawn to work in natural settings. I have spent the last 30 years working in local natural environments delivering outdoor education in lots of varied forms.

I have inherited the basket making tools so it seemed obvious to work with willow. So here I am”. 

Ruth Thompson: “I have a love for willow, the outdoors and natural materials.  I studied botany and went into horticulture, exploring greenwood crafts, initially working with hazel and then with willow.

I have gradually acquired more skills working with various colleagues and being given commissions that gave me the opportunity to widen my skills.

I enjoy the fact that my work is quite varied – I like being out in the woods cutting coppice for raw materials, but I also enjoy teaching groups and helping other to be creative.

There are many reasons for doing the work that I do, including working outside, maintaining a heritage skill, enjoying the creative process and enabling others to be creative.  I enjoy the informal working environment that is flexible and enables me to change the direction of my work to adapt to changing circumstances.

More recently Liz and I have been on a training course and learnt how to make eco coffins out of willow.  This is something I am really passionate about and want to promote woodland burials.”


(Saturday) 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre

Spa Well Road, Winlaton Mill


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The Land of Oak & Iron