An Oxymoronic Era
As I sit here thinking about where to start, and what WonderWood’s first blog should be about, I think how strange it is to be blogging in a modern world about an age old craft that lays down its roots centuries ago, in a time so far away from today’s contemporary style.
Man has been using hazel and willow rods to weave hurdles or continuously woven fencing for thousands of years; bending and twisting the durable materials to build Neolithic track-ways, Iron Age dwellings and Medieval livestock fencing. The British Army also used hazel hurdles to sturdy up trench walls on the front line and build tracks on boggy ground - during both world wars.
Since the middle ages the most popular use of hurdles was for the containment of sheep. Easy to handle and light enough to carry about, the hurdles were used to hold sheep for general jobs throughout the farming year; shearing, dipping and protection from wind during the lambing season. During the 'heyday' of arable sheep farming, the 1800s, hazel hurdles were in great demand - and most villages in the southern counties had several hurdle makers. The mid 20th Century, however, saw the replacement of woven hurdles with cheaper metal ones, but in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest and demand for woven hurdles and continuously woven fencing. Nowadays, this may not be for its practicality, but more for its beauty – and also sustainability. Willow and hazel fencing is a unique, and more attractive, alternative to the necessity of boundary fences. We live in a society where people like to draw out their lines of ownership and have privacy from those looking in, and more and more people are choosing continuously woven willow for a visually pleasing alternative.
Weaving is an ancient, traditional and historic craft - one which still commands its craftsmen and women to use those age old skills and techniques that have been used for centuries. But this should not mean that us craftsmen and women should stay in our 'hippy', 'country crafts' corner; in fact, quite the opposite. We should be encouraged to step out into the new world of design, landscaping and interiors – as what we have to offer is not only practical, but beautiful, sustainable and sympathetic to the landscape. It’s funny how such an ancient craft can be used to create modern, imaginative structures – and we encourage our customers to think outside the box and create something beautiful with willow; a fence doesn't have to be straight and plain, and a treehouse doesn’t have to be stereotypical and generic.
So there it is. Our first blog entry; a brief history of weaving. Through our blog, we hope to share with you our work, our inspiration, our proudest moments (including those funny hidden moments that don't always get seen!)-and show you how a craft that is so ancient can be used to create beauty in these modern times.