Willow Basketry

Functional & Beautiful Ribbed Baskets

with Expert SK Basketweaver Morley Maier

“We'll sit & weave & braid baskets & dreams under the summer sun.” -Peg Balfour

The making of useful and often beautiful containers from natural materials is one of the oldest crafts known to man. This course will offer a broad introduction to ribbed or frame basketry made with native Saskatchewan willow. The materials are readily available. The techniques and construction methods are very straightforward. The baskets are strong, functional and have a rustic natural quality that most people find instinctively warm and appealing.

The overall objective is to provide participants with all the necessary skills and knowledge to continue to make willow baskets following the course. We will examine our Saskatchewan willows; learn what, when and how to collect as well as how to store and prepare the materials for use. We will make frames both with and without handles and we will learn to weave. Willow is a very versatile plant and can be used in many ways. We will find a time to talk about arbors, trellises, sculpture, furniture and the other interesting and creative things that people do with willow.

We will also find a time to explore the Ness Creek site and surrounding area. Depending on what we find we may even do some respectful harvesting.


  • Learn the fundamental principles of willow basketry including harvesting, prepping materials, frame-making, weaving, handle-making, & finishing.

  • Complete 3 or 4 baskets, with & without handles.

  •  Make a frame or frames for use following the course.

  • Gain the knowledge and skills necessary to continue to make ribbed baskets.

There are no prerequisites for this course other than a willingness to learn and genuine interest in willow basketry.

Date: Tues. August 6th – Fri. August 9th, 2019

Tuition: $495

  • Early Bird Course Tuition of $445
  • 20 Hours of Course Time
  • Material & Equipment Fee of $50
  • Daily “Boreal Bites”  
  • Morning Yoga
  • An unforgettable experience

Inclusive Price: $495 – $945
Inclusive Price varies based on chosen meal plan & accommodation during your time at forestART.

Contact Us
We are happy to help answer any questions you have about forestART!

Phone: 306 480 9010
Email: nesscreekforestart@gmail.com

Your Instructor : Morley Maier

Morley Maier has been making willow baskets as a hobby for about 20 years. The baskets he makes are traditional ribbed or frame baskets. This very old style of basketry was important and useful to the Europeans who first settled our country and our province. Morley’s preference is to make strong and functional baskets that can be used as they were first intended; as containers to carry and store things.

Morley enjoys teaching the skills of basketry and for several years prior to its closure had been an instructor for the U. of S. at their Arts and Ecology Kenderdine Campus.

Morley and fellow basket maker, Shelly Westberg have had the honor of providing baskets for the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan to give as gifts from the province to various heads of state and other dignitaries from Canada and many other countries around the world. Included in the list of recipients is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He is also is a juried member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council. His work has twice been selected to be part of “Dimensions,” the SCC’s traveling fine craft exhibition. He has also received two SCC awards; the Merit Award and the award for Excellence in Functional and Production Ware.


"I took a willow basketry workshop with Morley Maier a few years ago and it was fabulous. He is a wonderful teacher. He talked us through, as well as demonstrated, all the steps necessary for making willow baskets, and then he helped us use these techniques to make several baskets on our own. The workshop was well-paced, enjoyable and relaxed. The baskets are lovely as well as functional, and we all had a good time. Highly recommended."
Anna Leighton
Past Course Participant
"I have created three willow baskets with Morley and they all turned out beautifully. He is very skilled both in the creation of his craft and instruction of classes. Participants in Morley's class will go home with heirloom-quality baskets to use for many years."

Lisa Hermiston
Past Course Participant


FAQ & More Info

While previous basketry or other crafting experience may be useful, it is absolutely not necessary.  This course is structured to insure that even those who have never worked with willow will be successful

While the materials used for very large willow baskets can be quite thick and may require strong hands, that is certainly not the case for this course.  The willow we will be using will be smaller and easily manipulated. So for this course; if your hands can do everyday kinds of things, they can also weave baskets.  

The baskets we will make are small to medium in size and so everyone will leave with at least 3 of their very own beautiful willow baskets.  If we have time, we may attempt a fourth.  Remember, you will also complete a frame or two so that you are ready for your next basket on your own following the course.

Supplied by Students

                       Utility knife with retractable blade

                        Hand pruning shears

                        Strong scissors

                        Work clothes or an apron (willows can stain just a bit!)

                        Baskets or other willow creations you might have – we will take some time for “willow talk.”

Supplied by Instructor & Covered by the Material & Equipment ee

                        All other materials required for weaving 3 – 4 baskets during the course

Tuesday following the group orientation

We will use this afternoon for introductions and a course overview, a look at the materials and a brief discussion about frame construction. We will also begin weaving our first basket.


Introductions and “show and share”



            baskets – colors, shapes and sizes

            varieties of willow – weavers and frame material

            collection and storage – when and where

            preparation for use – taper and steam


Frames (very brief – we make frames on Wednesday!)

            suitable materials

            jigs, pails, roasters and tubs

            with and without handles


Beginning our first basket – learning to weave (a started basket will be supplied)

            weave pattern

            adding a weaver

            avoiding “porcupines”

            finishing a basket – tucking the ends




Today we will finish our first basket and oil it. The remainder of the morning will be spent making our own frames. By early afternoon we should be ready to begin weaving our second basket.


Making frames (demonstration first)

            suitable materials

            shapes – jigs, tubs, pails and roasters

            hoops and handles

            baskets with handles

            wrapped handles

            allowing the frames to dry (we will finish assembling on Thursday)


A hoop and handle basket – from the beginning

            string to stabilize the hoop and handle

            starting a basket – the God’s eye

            review the weave pattern

            adding ribs

            making up space – where do I weave now?

            Review – finishing a basket


Note: If we are unable to fit a willow tour (walking or driving) into our regular instructional time we might want to do one this evening. We will leave this as “to be determined!”



 Today we will finish our hoop and handle basket, assemble our frames that have been drying and begin a less conventional free-hand “bush basket.”


            review – finishing a basket

            assembling a frame (demonstration first)

                        hoop inside the handle

                        hoop placement and basket depth

                        nails and wire

            “Bush Baskets”

                        let nature provide the frame and maybe some of the ribs!


Friday AM

This morning we will finish our free-hand baskets and leave some time for final comments and questions.


  • Optional yoga prior to breakfast
  • Journaling and drawing, forest walks 


  • Early evening
    Palette Cleanse social hour with complimentary boreal bites, an opportunity to socialize and interact with all the other art course participants to be inspired and make connections!
  • Optional sauna, camp fire time, storytelling, walks, swimming, etc.

It’s choose your own adventure, with options to suit every budget! You can cook all your own meals, pay for lunches only, or get the full meal deal. You can camp with or without power, bunk in with some fellow artists in shared accommodation, or rent a private cabin. 

Full Details on our Food & Accommodation Options can be found on the main forestART page or when you go to register!

Are you joining us??

 We look forward to seeing you in  Willow Basketry with Morley Maier

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